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So I want to rent an apartment in the Netherlands but the price for such an apartment is quite low and I am proceeding with caution. Do you think that this is a scam or does booking.com really do this? He sent me an id and a contract.

Ok, This is me. This is how the process is working. I am telling you from the start, so we will not have discussions. I will contact Booking, and i will pay 79 euro, to use this service. I will give Booking all my document and Documents regarding the apartment. Booking will check to see if everything is in order. If all the bills are paid, and all that stuff. After that, Booking will contact you, with all the instructions on how this is working and how you need to do the security deposit.

You do not pay in advance. You make the deposit in Booking, and Booking will keep your money there, until we meet and we make the renting contract. You will have a PIN. When we meet, you check the apartment, if it is ok for you, you just confirm to Booking with your PIN, that you rented, and in that moment, Booking will wire the money to me. If you do not want it, you just cancel everything with your PIN, and Booking will wire the money back to your account. Do you understand? I don't want to use this, but, I was once in Eindhoven to meet with a potential tenant and he did not have enough money to rent it. So please let me know if you agree with my terms . Looking forward to hear from you.

Thanks for your time!

ps. the landlord is currently in England and wants the deposit as the previous potential tenant agreed with everything but in the end did not have the money and the landlord flew for nothing.

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    Are you sure the website is booking.com and not a scammer with a similar address? This really sounds like a scam.
    – André
    Jan 5 at 16:44
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    Any deposit before you view the property + No reasonable owner will give you excuses like that... it's a scam Jan 5 at 16:52
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    Booking.com do manage rental properties, but for short-term lets, like AirBnb. I'm not aware of them doing it for long-term rentals or handling deposits (they try to make it look like an escrow account). See scamwarners.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=157236 for a very similar scam from a few years ago.
    – jcaron
    Jan 5 at 17:11
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    I was once in Eindhoven to meet with a potential tenant and he did not have enough money to rent it. There might be any number of reasons why a prospective tenant does not take the letting having seen the apartment. Nobody pays before viewing. Jan 5 at 17:59
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    The landlord/seller being in a different country and therefore organizing an unusual payment method is the first red flag of most rental or car purchase scams.
    – vsz
    Jan 6 at 22:55

5 Answers 5

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This looks very much like a scam. Apart from a very strange payment procedure, which is a huge red flag in itself, I see at least three more red flags.

Firstly, the price is quite low, as you mention.

Secondly, he says that he will have to pay 79 euro to "Booking". This is a common trick employed by scammers — make you think that the scammer spends their money on you, so that you feel obliged to do what they ask. I guess this trick should have a name and a Wikipedia page...

Finally, his excuse for all this trouble sounds very weak and illogical to me. He says he is doing this to make sure you have the needed money, so that he will not go to Eindhoven for nothing. However, I suppose that not having money is by far not the most common reason to get out of a potential rent agreement. Way more common are just "I did not like the property" or "I liked a different property better". So even if you do have money and can prove it to the landlord by this escrow-like transfer, this in no way guarantees that he will not travel to Eindhoven for nothing. Moreover, he clearly says that you will be able to cancel everything, so he clearly understands that he may get nothing from his trip... The logic does not add up.


So what is the most probable outcome? Most probably, they will send you a phishing link that will make you think you are paying on real booking.com, while it is not so. The most common ways are:

  • some legitimate-looking domain, but not affiliated with booking.com, e.g. booking-long-time.com or long-time.booking
  • a domain visually similar to booking.com, but with a small typo, e.g. bookimg.com or bookıng.com, or something like booking.com.someothersite.com
  • maybe they have found a way to send you an authentic booking.com link that will redirect you to the scammer's site (e.g. something like booking.com/redirect?to=http://foobar.com), or that allows them to inject their content into a legitimate booking.com page; such vulnerabilities are not unheard of.

Note that there are other, more subtle ways to trick you into paying money to them. Should you decide to follow up, after learning more details from them, you can ask an updated question (probably better suited for Money Stackexchange) to find out how a particular scam can work.


I would suggest you don't follow up and completely block their account.

However, if you are as curious as me, you can try to agree to them just to see what will happen next. You will at least learn something yourself, and (not very probable) maybe you will even find something that the authentic booking.com support will be glad to hear about (e.g. some vulnerability on booking.com site). I have done this once (with a similar, but different scheme, on a classified advertisements website), only to see that indeed the scammer sent me a typical fishing site with a small typo in the domain name. I dropped all messaging with the scammer and reported it to the website's support (although I don't think this is a viable way to combat that particular kind of scammer; this was not an actual vulnerability, just plain old phishing).

Just be sure not to pay anything and not to enter any your data (credit card details, ID details, etc.) anywhere, and do not trust anything they say. In particular, if you raise your suspicions with them ("the link looks strange..." etc.), they may try to offer you millions of explanations ("this is a special booking.com domain for long-time rent", etc.) Do not believe this.

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    The other technique is to use a Unicode character that looks like a letter. For example, a small circle in place of each “o”.
    – DoxyLover
    Jan 6 at 0:41
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    @DoxyLover (With the range of Unicode characters, you can often find something that looks identical — in your example, there's GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON ο, CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER O о, ARMENIAN SMALL LETTER OH օ…)
    – gidds
    Jan 6 at 1:31
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    One way to avoiding this kind of replaced letters is by typing in the address/url yourself.
    – Willeke
    Jan 6 at 11:22
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    "However, if you are as curious as me, you can try to agree to them just to see what will happen next." Don't. You might get lucky, but, in general, engaging with criminals is not a good idea.
    – Heinzi
    Jan 6 at 14:41
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    @gidds to be fair, boοking.com will be shown using punycode in all (?) browsers like this: xn--boking-j0e.com (or something like that... my understanding of punycode is rudimentary at best), so probably won't fool anybody. Jan 6 at 15:54
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This is a scam. I learnt about this particular kind of fraud on a newspaper years ago. For your future safety, let me say that whenever I have a doubt, I google to confirm. I google the sender, any phone they provide, even part of the text.

I did this on this case and a site came up showing pretty much the same text you received.

You can verify thist by using Google to search: "to meet with a potential tenant and he did not have enough money to rent it."

Or find the link I mention here.

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It is a known scam within Germany, see (e.g.) here or here.

Relevant points

  • "landlord" claims he is living abroad
  • "landlord" claims he had trouble with potential tenant before
  • "landlord" wants you to place deposit at booking.com
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Definitely a scam. And one I have encountered myself before. (in germany)

I would assume this to be common in every bigger city all around the globe by now.

How I knew for certain it was a scam even if I did not fall for it: In my case I reverse image searched the pictures. Most of these are so low effort they just take ads from furniture stores etc.

My "landlord" claimed to be from Norway (I think?) and currently on an oil platform (that part I remember clearly, as that was the tipping point for me that prompted the research).

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This is a scam.

The "Booking" doing the alleged service will be the same scammer under the guise of being Booking.com They will say everything is ok and you should trust both them and the seller, and request the money for "escrow".

The money supposedly in escrow will be actually going to the scammer (or an scammer sidekick, at most). Probably through a money mule.

And obviously, no landlord and no apartment will be awaiting you in Eindhoven.

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