Is California Rental Project a Scam?

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.

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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!

48 Responses to "Is California Rental Project a Scam?"

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    September 21, 2014 at 9:55 am

    This is a strong, honest article about a scam, a warning to renters in search of an apartment. Thank you for your advice.

  2. Adam

    September 21, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Have you tried reporting them to the BBB?

    Or perhaps engaging local media (ABC, NBC, etc.) affiliates to investigate to try and throw a spotlight on their shady actions? It doesn’t sound like anything here is illegal, just impeccably unethical. Which sucks. Sorry, guys….

  3. Eva

    September 21, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I agree with Adam…Attorney General’s office should be more effective than BBB but I would do both also the Division of Consumer affairs …I feel so badly for you both ..will share to alert others . I would definitely contact the media , google a local newscaster who investigates these scams

  4. Jennaleaf

    October 1, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    They should get in trouble for fraud and theft. That’s in a way stealing people’s money.

    • hungryandfit

      October 15, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Yeah… we can’t know for sure

  5. A. Smith

    October 3, 2014 at 11:12 am

    People should also be concerned about identity theft because I am sure that the application probably requires SSN to do the credit check. So not only are they making the $50 they probably use or sell that other information which will put people into a world of other problems. Wow! Thank you for this post.

    • hungryandfit

      October 15, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Yeah it’s nervewracking

  6. rawriorr bro

    October 4, 2014 at 2:34 am

    Thank you sooooooo much. you saved me 50$ and alot of time .

    • hungryandfit

      October 15, 2014 at 11:26 am


  7. Amanda

    October 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    well I guess I lost $50 but am glad you brought this awareness to me for it will only be $50 that I get scammed on.

    • hungryandfit

      October 15, 2014 at 11:25 am

      Yes, definitely

  8. mel chan

    October 5, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Do you know anything about artiste apartments?

    • hungryandfit

      October 12, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      No, unfortunately not :/

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  10. James Hunkgjin

    October 13, 2014 at 7:22 am

    No They are Not Scam they charge 50$ just for The Pre screaming Process. I got an cheap Apartment from them and my cousin also got an department from them… so leave them alone.

    • hungryandfit

      October 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

      I think you work for them

    • Bryan

      October 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      An department? Are you kididng me? I can tell that you’re a scam by your ridiculously poor grammar. Get the fuck out of here asshole and go back to your country and rip off your own kind.

      • pepperbofb

        December 25, 2014 at 10:04 pm

        I second that Bryan, Good catch.

  11. Scammed and upset Human

    October 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    So it seems I got sucked into this scam. I guess it was worth a try, $50 in exchange for an unbelievable rent. Well, it’s a lesson I already knew but ignored anyways. If it’s too good to be true it probably is not true. So here’s how my little investigation went:

    I hope more people report these crooks to all the possible venues, including BBB, Trulia, forums, maybe police or FBI and whoever else. If it is a legit company, it would not need to have so many other sites floating around.

  12. OutofFifty

    October 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    So it seems I got sucked into this scam. I guess it was worth a try, $50 in exchange for an unbelievable rent. Well, it’s a lesson I already knew but ignored anyways. If it’s too good to be true it probably is not true.

    I hope more people report these crooks to all the possible venues, including BBB, Trulia, forums, maybe police or FBI and whoever else. If it is a legit company, it would not need to have so many other sites floating around.

    • hungryandfit

      October 15, 2014 at 10:51 am

      Yeah :/

  13. Tiya hink

    October 15, 2014 at 7:23 am

    No they Are Not Scam. i got Apartment from them !!!

    • hungryandfit

      October 15, 2014 at 10:50 am

      You have the same email address as the comment from 2 days ago. I think it’s clear you work for this company and are trying to defend…

  14. msvero

    October 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks for saving me the headaches and disappointments. I will be putting in my complaint to the BBB and AG. Do what you do for money just don’t take advantage of people. Karma will always catch up to you eventually. Trust that!

  15. al fl

    October 19, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I have had a different experience. Contacting an ad on Craigslist on an apartment I got a very long reply about how happy they were that I replied. They were no longer in CA and would conduct all this by email and phone. Since I am really looking I have answered quite a few ads and I have gotten at least 5 or 6 responses worded the same way. Also you could not see the apartment, even though there was a posted sign about a vacancy. So when I read these ads I decided to check before I called. Thank you for your posting. I want to do the same with what I know and want to know how to do it.

  16. Dr Funstein..

    October 21, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Behind this kind of scams are made by Chinese or Hindu people.

  17. Marilyn

    November 15, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    What about the personal application information, have you had any problems, I feel like an idiot for falling for this!!!!


    November 20, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!!! I ALMOST FELL FOR IT!! TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, most likely is, first to find this amazing website in la…not very likely! AND they fact that there is no physical address…nice try!

  19. serpentineriver

    December 2, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    thank you for this! I almost fell for them today, but i googled their company name with “scam,” and i found this post! thanks for saving me $50!!

  20. Plucky

    December 6, 2014 at 5:59 am

    This was so helpful. I think you did a very clear to the point & honest review. Sucks that you got taken. Happens to myself and almost again until, i decided on a crazy whim to check the co. reviews online. I always read the reviews when it comes to anything/everything online. The consumers are really who I listen to.
    Lastly, thank you for taking the time to point out these bastards!!!

  21. Phil Angelico

    December 18, 2014 at 11:47 am

    So why is it still posted? Doesn’t Trulia have a responsibility here (I assumed you reported this to them) – Best Regards, Phil

  22. Dodgedthatbullet

    January 2, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    I was talking to them while searching their company online. I was reading this as I was listening to their sales pitch. THANK YOU for posting this!!

  23. Rizwan Raja

    January 8, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Thanks for this article. Good I googled this before paying the fee.

  24. Nicole

    January 9, 2015 at 2:39 am

    So how come the police never catch these crooks?

  25. Stella

    February 3, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Thank you so much!!! I was about to break out a deal to apply with these people, but since it sounds to good to be true… I researched the company and got your website. Thank you for saving me! And, yes, they need to be reported to everyone we could think of.

  26. Erica

    March 18, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Wow thanks so much for posting this! I live in the Bay Area and as everyone knows, it’s so expensive to rent out here. I stumbled upon their website and saw a 2 bedroom for only $950/month. Too good to be true! So naturally, I googled their website and sure enough.. scam. THANK YOU for saving me $50 and many headaches/frustration that I was sure to get!

  27. Rebecca

    April 2, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    The website looked too homemade to me. Plus it said utilities were included with an already ridiculously low rent. I knew I had to look into it. Thanks for posting this! I can’t believe they are still around looking at how old the article is. So sad no authority has done anything about it.

  28. ArizonaJ

    April 9, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Thank you so much for exposing this! I was about to fork over $50… Not gonna happen!

  29. Liz

    April 15, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Hello. I just recently seen there page but its actually telling me the house the address and everything they told me its still available and that i would have to submit the application but they never told me they were going to charge $50 until after i was gonna submit the application it sent me to a payment method thing.. But so now im confused is this really a scam ?

    • Guille

      April 27, 2015 at 12:37 am

      We put an application and we were approve but they haven’t even call us so idk

  30. Sasha

    April 29, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Ahhh thank you!!! You saved me $50 that I could use on a REAL application lol. As a single mom I really can’t afford to be scammed by some jack A!


    May 9, 2015 at 10:24 am

    California Rental Project a Scam IS A SCAM!! You are much to kind. They stated that I was approved and all they did is string me along with generic emails, stop returning my calls. They tried to get me to pay another $50 fee by saying that I needed to submit a new application and pay a new $50 fee since they have new landlords for their listing. THIS IS A RIP OFF and bonfafide SCAM! I am reporting them to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies so that the can not rip off others. Dispute the credit card charge with your credit card company because a credit check and back ground was never done. You will not see a credit inquiry on your credit report.

  32. Sierra W.

    May 18, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks for posting this, it just sucks I didn’t search for reviews sooner. I was definitely taken for my money on this one. I did everything they asked, and I got the email saying I was approved, but nothing after that. Everytime I tried to apply to another listing in Los Angeles, it wanted me to reapply and repay each time. I thought that since it says your application and fee cover each listing you’re interested in, that it was a one time fee. When I emailed about issue they responded with, “Your application will be reviewed in the order it was received. Thank you for your patience.” After a couple days I called three or four times daily and always got the machine. Sometimes i left a message, but not everytime. My calls were never returned, and i never heard the whole sales pitch, because i was never able to speak with anyone in in person or over the phone.

  33. James

    July 5, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Thank you so much for your post! I came upon these rentals with insanely low cost. Hard to believe, but I’m in a desperate situation to get out of my current rental, they raised my rent $250 from 1630 to 1880! A month notice after living here14 years so I need to pay 1880 for my August payment. I just can’t believe the law allows that much of an increase, I was told with no rent control, the owner can raise rent as they please. So I’m in a mess here and I just wanted to believe in the California Rental Project. Checked out their website and it looked a little suspicious and very unprofessional or just not commercial enough, but after reading thru the site I decided $50 was a good ratio of risk v reward. I filled in the application. Then filled in payment info and just prior to making payment I noticed payment was going to “amazing apartments”, it actually sounded like a joke to me or a sick prank, but after reading your post, it’s just a scam. Any public entities looking into them for fraud? I’m sorry for the length…all I really wanted to say was a
    simple THANK YOU SO MUCH =)

  34. CaliPup

    July 8, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    You mean to tell me with all of the complaints that not one person reported to the BBB? I ran across this and immediately stopped payment of the $50. I followed up with the BBB, not one complaint. If it is a scam, shame on all of you.

  35. Michael

    October 13, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    I just found this! What they were offering indeed sounded to good to be true, offering a place in my area for HALF it’s market value. At first I thought maybe it was a 501(c)3, but then got suspiscious.
    The same scam is now pervasive on CL also.

  36. D.L. Smit

    November 23, 2015 at 8:08 am

    It’s a year later than all the other comments, so. Not sure if this is still open for response. Just saw an ad for this group. Was pretty sure it was a scam, just wanted to see if they’d been reported.
    What got me suspicious was that it doesn’t matter if you are low income. Legitimate programs like this don’t rent low cost, “affordable” apartments to people making $200,000 /year.
    Hope they get closed down soon. I don’t live in California (yet ;^) but I would agree the state AG should be notified – and the BBB.

  37. Morgan Maloney

    May 4, 2016 at 8:24 am

    i just googled the california project.. i am relocating to LA for a job promotion.. let me just tell you they are at it still.. for me, $50 can take me a long ways.. a nice HH, new work blouse, etc. haha. So I am very careful how many “rental applications” I fill out. Needless to say.. I saw the ever appealing $900 Santa Monica apartment. When you know it is too good to be true, it 99% is. I just received a text from them, telling me to check out their website.. They are still at it, and have posts all over rental websites, such as westside rentals, hotpads, etc. I do not know how to submit to AG, but they need to be shut down. thank you for this post!