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Facebook housing group scams you need to know about in 2023

Austin, TX— Facebook housing group scams continue to be a menace in today’s market. The real estate world saw an uptick in business with the recent housing boom that ultimately came to an end in June of 2022 in the Austin area. But scammers that took advantage of the chaos haven’t gone anywhere. Especially in Facebook housing groups like “Austin – Monthly Rentals and Flexible Stays-housing, sublets, coliving” and “Austin (TX) – Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets” (to name a few) where scammers run rampant in the comments and post low-cost rentals with stock photos and bad grammar. Not to mention the bizarre “Upcoming events” in one of the housing groups seen below.

The admins of this group found in the “about” section of this group are Zara Martins and a Facebook page called “4stay who appear to not be moderating this group at all. We can only guess how many people have been scammed using this housing group. As of November 1st, 2022 This page has ~7.5k members and the majority of the comments look like this..

Popular newz did some digging and found that this is not just an Austin problem but pretty much every major city in the US has Facebook housing groups with this same sort of scam.

Ironically, this Austin Facebook housing group named “Austin Apartments and Housing (NO SPAM)” boasts that “We have blocked thousands of known scammers that are trying to proliferate across Facebook housing groups.” still contains spammers, which appear to linger in the comments with no sign of moderation, at least in their Austin housing group, that is. According to this section of their website, (How to avoid housing scams), it appears they also moderate hundreds of housing groups all over the world, most of which have little to no members.

Even more worrisome is this group with over 17,000 members ran by Lilian Chen and Jaideep Patil who don’t appear to be moderating this group whatsoever much less are active in their own group. It is likely they are admins of other housing groups all over the U.S. as well.

These are just a few Facebook housing groups enabling scammers to take advantage of modern day renters.

What exactly are these Facebook housing group scams?

These scams or “spammers” will ultimately try to get you to pay application fees or some kind of deposit via PayPal, Venmo, Cashapp, or some other unconventional form of payment, usually between $100-$500. These scams happen before you even view the property and may be disguised as application/admin fees or a deposit to “hold the unit for you”, which is not how it works. Or they simply steal your information which may be just as costly. It was especially a cancer on the Austin housing market during the recent housing boom when transactions were happening so rapidly.

How do Facebook housing group scams work?

The idea of the scam works by multiple if not dozens of fake Facebook accounts run by individuals or organizations spamming the comments of people looking for housing in Facebook housing groups with fake free websites often registered with Google ending in “”. They lead you to believe you are searching for a rental on a legit website in hopes you eventually fork over your personal information to the scammer who then may fool you into paying some kind of application fee or deposit. If this scam works 1 out of 100 times then it is worth the scammers time to continue doing it. It is likely this is their “job”.

3 ways to spot a Facebook housing group scammer

1- These fake Facebook accounts will often have a profile picture from a stock google image or stolen from a real Facebook account to make it look legit. View their main profile, even if its locked, find a picture that has “likes” and see who “liked” the picture. You will notice the people who liked it do not live in the U.S. much less Austin.

2- Look at their profile picture, profile name and URL. If the profile name and URL don’t match or the profile pictures obviously aren’t the same person, its a good sign they are fake.

3- For admins of Facebook housing groups that are approving new members in a private housing group. Look at how many and what groups the requested new members are in. If someone is in 305 groups and they are all housing groups throughout the US and have a locked profile, it is a safe bet they will be spamming your comments. You won’t be able to stop all of them from coming in but it will happen a lot less with good moderation.

In conclusion, our best tip is to not pay ANY fees or deposits and limit giving out personal information until you have seen the inside of the property you are renting.

Check out this article from Austin American Statesman.

Photo by Brett Jordan:

Other photos: M.W.

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