WARNING: Accommodation in Paris

View from my flat by frrrrrr

This article was written by Lena Anayi, published on 11th October 2010 and has been read 6854 times.

Lena has been in touch about scammers for accommodation in Paris, who have already targeted and created problems for quite a few year abroad students in Paris this year. Her advice is really useful for anyone out there looking for accommodation, so read this and pass it on...
I myself am in Paris right now on my year abroad, having successfully found accommodation after three weeks of constant searching and visiting rooms during the summer. I was lucky to have found a nice place to stay whilst avoiding any problems; I did however come across a vast number of online scammers during my search, the majority of whom were posting on the Paris Craigslist website. The adverts of these types of scammers are not always entirely convincing, but they are often persuasive enough to successfully and repeatedly fool many foreign students and young people in Paris, which is why I feel that next year’s year abroad students should be made aware of them as soon as necessary.

I’m not sure if you are aware of the common strategy of these scammers which, aside from the strikingly cheap rent, very central apartment location and photos of beautifully furnished rooms, will often involve claiming to want somebody who will “simply look after and take care of their cherished home” and that “money doesn’t matter”, they will claim to “not be in the country” perhaps due to some “missionary work” abroad (and hence will not be able to show you the place beforehand), and most importantly, they will ask for a deposit (often to be sent to “relatives in the UK”) upon receipt of which they will claim to “send you the keys to the apartment”.

There are quite a few posts on websites with useful guidance on how to avoid falling into the traps of these scammers, such as Hubpages. The Paris Housing Scams Watch website is also very good, in particular for keeping up-to-date with new Paris housing scammers as they are continuously being exposed.

Advice for anyone looking on the internet for accommodation in Paris:
Never send money online  Always meet the person and viewing the property beforehand, or at least making sure that you have the possibility to do so  Make sure they have a telephone number with which you can contact them  Take notice of poor spelling and grammar; quite often these will quickly deteriorate as you send them more and more emails, a sign of their loosening reliance on some pre-prepared template email  Check the IP address of the email address they are using – check that this matches where the person claims to be. It is possible to check the person’s IP address by visiting IP Address Location and then typing the IP address into whatismyIPaddress.com The reason I decided to get in touch is because I have spoken to so many people here in Paris already who have been scammed, you honestly wouldn’t believe! Quite a few of these have actually lost a considerable amount of money as a result of being the target of these scammers. I myself nearly fell into the trap on several occasions: I think that despite how blatantly insincere these adverts might often appear to be, when you actually find yourself in the situation of desperately trying to find accommodation in Paris (which is notoriously difficult, a huge challenge that few people succeed without lots of stress and time spent sending out hopeless emails and making unanswered or unwelcomed calls) and you are confronted with one of these scam adverts, you might quickly slip into the mentality of simply hoping for the best, feeling that perhaps there is somebody in Paris who understands how difficult it is finding accommodation in Paris, or who seeks to avoid the complications of house-hunting in Paris and keep things as simple as they need to be... or you may simply be bought in by the very attractive cost of rent and the look of the apartment!  

After discussing all of this with friends, I thought it would be best for to warn anybody planning on spending their year abroad in Paris about the large frequency of these scams online, so that they may at least be aware of their techniques. I would even suggest avoiding Craigslist altogether, although there are of course a few genuine people on the website; it has developed a somewhat notorious reputation for scams however, which has diluted the genuine posts and possibly put genuine posters off from using it.

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