U-M warns of off-campus housing scams on social media

The University of Michigan is warning students of scammers posting in off-campus housing Facebook groups.

ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan Division of Public Safety & Security warned Tuesday afternoon of subletting scams in Facebook groups for off-campus housing.

In a Facebook post on its page, DPSS said that scammers typically create fake ads, or hijack existing ones.

“If you can’t meet in person, see the rental or sign a lease before you pay, keep looking,” reads the post.

There have been reports of subletting scams in off-campus housing Facebook groups. Be cautious when searching for a...

Posted by University of Michigan Division of Public Safety & Security on Tuesday, December 1, 2020

According to Bonnie Theil, Detective Bureau Lieutenant with the Ann Arbor Police, landlord scams are not new to the Ann Arbor area and can be found on various platforms.

“Craigslist was a very popular platform for a while,” said Theil. “If it’s fraudulent, usually what they’re having students do is Western Union or wire the money to different states.”

The further students are coming from, the more likely they are to be vulnerable, said Theil.

“We have had people show up and somebody is already in the apartment,” she said.

Over the years, scammers have become more savvy, operating extensive networks and having money wired to third party locations resulting in numerous dead ends for law enforcement.

“The best way to prevent it is sometimes the hardest thing to do, but it’s to meet in person -- and sometimes that’s just not possible,” said Theil.

For more information and to spot signs of a scam, DPSS recommends visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s Rental Listing Scam website.

Corey McIsaac


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