Are You Being Scammed? 9 Tips for Property Managers to Avoid Grifters

It's fun to watch shows about professional scammers such as Anna Delvey and Elizabeth Holmes. It's another thing to be on the receiving end of one. Here's how property managers can protect themselves.

This past week, I binged “Inventing Anna,” about Anna Delvey (really Sorokin), who was sent to Rikers for pretending(?) to be a German heiress and bilking a bunch of NYC hotels and various wealthy and glamorous people out of tons of money. I also watched “The Tinder Swindler,” about an Israeli fraudster who posed as the son of a billionaire and tricked women into sending him tons of money. And I’m super excited for the new show “The Dropout,” starring Amanda Seyfried playing Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes (whom I know very little about, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she grifted people out of tons of money). 

Scammers are so having a moment right now.

Masked burglar

If scammers had the decency to dress like this to begin with it would save us all a lot of heartache! Image credit: Anna Shvets via

But it’s one thing to be entertained by these scamps in shows (because, after all, there is no way we’d fall for them in real life) and actually being targeted by a scammer in real life (because it unfortunately happens all the time).

Of course, we want to believe our residents and potential renters are all honest. And most of them are! But it’s important to protect yourself just in case. Here are some suggestions to keep you and your apartment community from being scammed.

  • Run a credit check before you allow anyone to sign a lease.
  • Also, make sure the lease is a written lease. No oral agreements, ever!
  • Make sure a lawyer looks over anything signed. 
  • Also run a criminal check.
  • Require references—and actually check them.
  • Make sure your wi-fi is secure and require passwords.
  • Even though you might have virtual rental tours, try to meet the actual prospective resident in person, or when they move in, go in and introduce yourself. It’s important to know who the renter actually is.
  • Watermark you property photos on your website so people can’t steal the images and create their own fake listings with them.
  • Document everything! Save email complaints from residents, and make sure there is always a paper trail.

What else can property managers do to protect themselves from potentially being scammed? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Post your comments on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @MHNOnline or @jfiur. And in the mean time, my enemies are out to get me, so can you lend me, just like $10,000? I’ll pay you back as soon as my father puts more money in my trust. You accept foreign wire transfers, right? No? You are SO BASIC!


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