Schemers targeting Westfield landlords who rent to students

Westfield Police say it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Westfield Police are warning landlords to watch out for a check scheme. The crooks are targeting landlords on the Westfield State University off-campus housing list.

Schemers contact property owners by phone or email, and write a check for more than the initial deposit. Then they ask the landlord to mail or wire them the difference. A check scheme is when a schemer sends you a fake check and you mistake it for a real one.

Westfield Police told 22News it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. The banks tell the property owners the check is bad, and the owner is on the hook for the full amount. Their tenant, by then, is nowhere to be found.

Westfield Police Sgt. Eric Hall said, “Anytime someone is telling you they have money for you, as long as you send them some money, 99.9% of the time it’s going to be scam.”

And it’s not just landlords. Serge Petrik of Westfield said he was targeted for a similar check scheme on Craigslist. Now he only meets people in person; “Not to make deals more online, more in person, and don’t give out your personal information. Go to local area, like Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds, it’s more public.”

Westfield University sent out an alert to their off campus housing list to warn landlords. The Westfield Police said there were 2 landlords contacted so far, but neither one fell for the scheme.

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