Yes, in a way, but scam might not be the best word. I would never let anyone I care about or got the chance to talk to use them, but keep reading. It’s worth it if you want a good answer to this question.
NOTE: Obviously, I need not remind you that this a blog and in those regards it is subjective and we have certain freedoms of speech. We could use it for defamation, and use that negativity to become more popular, but we are honorable people and are just trying to help others.
A few weeks ago, while apartment hunting in Los Angeles, we nearly closed on an apartment when we found the California Rental Project. Their prices were not just competitive, they were unbelievable. The deals were so great that we contacted them to apply to multiple apartments, just to be safe. Our “real” apartment that was $1125 a month for 700 square feet in Koreatown seemed like a total rip-off compared to the over 1700 square foot apartment in West L.A. that was ONLY $900 a month.
How does it work? They claim that their service does something along the lines of favorably adjusting the prices of the general market while also providing lower-income housing options. The process, as you may know, is to submit a general application with a $50 fee before you can actually get to ever see the apartments or even find out what the actual address is. The website only gives you intersections and very few pictures. Oh, and by the way, trust us… we called them on average more than once a day for about two straight weeks. We spoke with them a lot, which makes this such a convincing “scam.” But hey, if you can make a few thousand dollars a week or month, what’s the harm in paying one or two people a fraction of that to talk on the phone and respond to a few emails.
THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR. “Evidence.” When we called, they told us that the apartment we were interested in had been posted over two weeks before and no more than three people had called with interest; plus, no one had yet applied. We submitted an application no more than two minutes later, BASICALLY, confirming we were the first applicants. That helps in a first come, first serve process. (Remember that.) Next, they told us it would be 8-10 days for all credit/background checks to go through. Well, we’ve worked with MUCH BIGGER companies that deal with multiple times more of these checks, and they have gotten them done for us THE DAY WE APPLIED. We also worked for a company that conducted THOROUGH background checks on every applicant and we know they can be done in two days, easily.
We kept calling back because we knew they didn’t need 8-10 days but they were always adamant about company policies. Surely enough, it was no less than 10 days, THE WHOLE TEN DAYS, before we heard that we were approved. YES! Then they sent us a general spam email that said next they would take the people who applied and were approved in order and call them to set an appointment to FINALLY see the apartments. We had called over the weeks before that and asked for the address or the landlord’s contact information, but of course, they claimed they were not allowed to give that information out to us… yet. They also claimed that they made it easier for the landlords and property managers by taking care of the background checks BUT when we asked who we were waiting for over those 8-10 days, they blamed the landlords. We were in a lose-lose helpless situation. Really.
Still, we knew we had the apartment. There was a 99.9% chance we were first to apply, and we were approved. It’s been weeks since we got that email. We never got a call. We contacted them, but we never heard back. And, the apartment is still listed as available on the website. So I won’t be the first guy on the internet to say this is a scam but you can read the TRUE story, if you’re patient and were interested in using California Rental Project, and decide if you want to go through that same process. Let me end with a single image.
Imagine a person paying a website host five dollars a year to have a url. That person puts together a very simple and very clean page with very little content, but keeps it professional and descriptive enough to stir interest. Next, individuals find that site, get excited, and provide that site with a $50 fee. Since the site clearly states that if your application is denied, the fee is not refunded, they create the perfect way of getting $50 from every person that stumbles by… and no one can ask questions, because they can simply not be answered. But what if the service promised doesn’t exist? Would you play the lottery if you secretly knew that the winning ticket was staged every time and no one ever won the jackpot. It’s there to entice you to be a customer and pay up, but you can never actually get it. A brilliant way to make money, right? Not the right thing to do… but disgustingly brilliant, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Feel free to ask questions below and I will be COMPLETELY HONEST from personal experience, answering anything that I can and saying I don’t know when… I don’t know. I am not doing this for me. My time and money are gone and were wasted. I am doing this to save you $50, prevent your future frustration, maintain your hope for the human race, and save you the time and effort of following a pipe dream during a very stressful time… which is while trying to find a place to live!
Sorry for the length, I hope it helps and as always, stay hungry and fit!