Around the time when the new semester starts, there is a huge number of scammers, especially in Facebook housing groups. They benefit from desperate homeless students, who need a place to stay and are willing to pay a huge deposit beforehand.
But be careful, if the scammer already got the money, there is little chance to get it back, even if a lawyer is involved. Most of them aren’t even living in Denmark and/or opened an account from a public place (ex.the library) and can’t be traced back. That is why you should pay attention and be very careful. Always be suspicious – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
(My examples are around Copenhagen, but the scamming scheme is the same for any place, where the demand in accommodations is high).
How the scammers work
Most of them post a Facebook post in housing groups, maybe with a short or sometimes also with a bit longer description, which sounds too good to be true.
Get suspicious if it says something like:
“ 20m² room close to city center and close walking distance to supermarket, metro station and university. 3000 kr rent per month – pm for pictures”.
or : “Close to university, 10 minutes from center. Big room available asap. 3500 kr all inclusive – please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org because my Facebook messenger is broken”
The price in both cases are too low. Believe me, there is no way to get a big room for 3000 kr in the in central Copenhagen in the beginning of a semester. Furthermore, the description is too vague – which university or what is meant by close to the city center? Which area of Copenhagen is it in? Last but not least, in the second example, you should write to an email address and not contact them on Facebook – in 99% of the cases it’s a scam. Remember: a post without pictures and/ or contact via private eMail is mostly a scam
In my experiences, people who really are looking for a tenant, are giving a detailed description of the vacant room.
They are stating the area in which it’s located –ex. Valby, Frederiksberg or Norrebro- and how far it is from Copenhagen Business School or Kobenhavn Universitet; who is living there (students or couples). They probably will also mention that CPR can be registered and will add pictures to the post as well.
Moreover, the golden rule you have to remember is: never send money for deposit or keys or rent in advance without seeing the apartment and the room itself! If you can’t come to see it yourself, you can ask someone to do it for you OR just pretend you will come by and then see how the possible scammer might react. In most cases, at that point they already start with finding excuses and refuse to meet up with anyone and show the place.
Usually, the scammers give you a random address in Copenhagen and tell you to google it, so you can “see” that it exists. Then they hook you up with a few pictures, tell you their fairy-tale and that you should send the deposit via bank transfer. After that, you will surely get the keys send to your home. False! There is most likely no apartment and you will never see the money again.
It is a stereotype scamming technique. They are using the “I am out of town/country and want to rent out my room in the mean time”. Their imagination seem to have no end: family member got sick abroad and they can’t leave, they found a partner there and don’t plan to come back or they have to look after their grandchild.
This is a classic scam, be aware and don’t fall for it.
How to spot a stereotype Facebook scammer 101:
– there is nothing on their timeline except the profile and cover picture, and maybe another picture of “them”.
Their profile picture is in low quality, has no likes or comments.
– it is a “new” profile, created 1 to 6 months ago and it doesn’t have any posts
– the person has no or only a few Facebook friends and they don’t look legit either
– they follow and are member of housing groups all over the world
(ex. if they are in “Housing in Amsterdam” and “Find room in Berlin” and posted in a housing group in Copenhagen, you should keep away from that person. Why would anyone look for apartments in so many places?). Of course there is a small chance, that this person has a room in Copenhagen, while studying in Amsterdam and meanwhile is looking for an apartment in Berlin for their year abroad – but honestly, how high are the chances that this is the case?
– Next step: if you text them, they might ask “Sorry I am overworked, can you tell me which apartment you mean?”. This happened to me around 2 years ago. A nice scammer lady sent me pictures from the room and an address in Barcelona.. while I was actually contacting her because of her ad for Copenhagen. I guess from all the scamming, she got confused in which city she is ripping off people now. Needless to say, I reported her, but I guess it’s easy to make a new account and trick the next person.
Not all scammers are that easy to spot though, some put more effort in it, have a few hundred friends, live in Copenhagen and have a lot of family pictures and such. It’s hard to spot these professionals, but hey, they will ask for money at one point without you seeing the place in advance. That’s when you should stop trusting them and move on.
- never pay in cash without any receipt or transfer money via Western Union, especially not before you saw anything yourself
- insist to have a signed contract
- check the Facebook of the landlord if you contacted them through it
- always, always meet in person and take a look at the apartment
There are way too many scammers out there and some are smarter than other. I heard about crazy stories with fake contracts and keys, where the landlord rented out the apartment to several people or someone else rented out an apartment through airbnb and pretended it was his. These are extreme cases, but sadly they happen (too often). Please take good care of yourself.
I hope that my experiences in this article will help you to avoid scammer in the future. And I guess, since you are reading this, you are searching for a place right now – I wish you best of luck ! Even if it seems hopeless sometimes, it will work out 🙂