To help Americans avoid the fate of 5.2 million renters victimized by fake rental listings, Onerent, the largest small-residential rental manager on the West Coast, launched Scamlord.ai to help protect renters from fraud.
”Rental scams are a billion-dollar problem in the US. We’re calling the purveyors of these awful scam listings, ‘Scamlords’ to really highlight the danger of online scams. With our experience in the market, we’ve learned all the tricks Scamlords use. This is the first anti-rental scam tool we’re launching to help educate renters and stop scammers,” said Chuck Hattemer, Co-Founder and CMO of Onerent.
Scamlord.ai is designed to help stop “scamlords” in their tracks. A user inputs information collected from the rental listing to verify if the listing is bogus or real. The AI verifies the details provided and determines the likelihood of a scam. Users then consider this information in deciding their next course of action with recommendations on what they can do.
Scamlord.ai is a product of Onerent’s learning experience in leasing over 8,000 homes and encountering thousands of fraudulent rental listings over the years. “We tune our algorithms to follow behavioral patterns of rental scammers. Listing details are fed into a basic machine learning model that identifies the likelihood of fraud,” said Julian Kuan, Onerent’s Lead Data Scientist, and COO.
With Scamlord.ai, house-hunters can reduce their risk of undergoing a fraudulent transaction with an impostor landlord.
“This is critical given that online scams are surging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some scammers are claiming they’re a landlord who can’t do a showing because of social distancing. They’ll often ask you to wire money in advance,” Hattemer said.
The Scamlord AI works by tracking patterns in the types of properties targeted by defrauders and the phone numbers they use, specifically VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) numbers which are created on the internet.
It can be easy for unsuspecting renters to fall prey to rental listing scams, as many of the fake listings look real. Scammers copy the listing’s photo and description and change the contact information with their own. Then they post the listing online offering a lower-than-market rent price to attract more people. Many have been successful in their ruse and have gotten away with their victim’s deposit and first month’s rent.