Let them know with all the fraud you need some good faith.
If your gut says bail them bail.
Harold Sharpe - Broker
So Cal Homes
California Department of Real Estate Broker License # 01312992
Why do you need to meet the landlord? I would insist on certain assurances to make sure 1) he owns the property and 2) he is authorized to rent
1) Have you been allowed to view and enter the unit? Most scam artist are looking to collect deposit money or credit check fees and don't have access to the unit.
2) Ask to see some proof that he is the owner... Property tax bill for instance Have him send you a picture ID
I am a property manager and as such I hear more than many but the stories and inventiveness just keep escalating. Recently there was a house that had recently sold listed for rent on Trulia at an exceptional price. A friend responded and asked for more info and got this elaborate story about relocation and five year rental possibility only and "just send me the deposit and I'll send you the keys".
Another known story was the woman who'd meet prospective tenants in front of the house and give some excuse why they couldn't get in "but if you want this (unbelievable value rental) just give me the deposit and it's yours".
Never send or give anyone money for a rental without meeting them or their representative to seeing the inside of the property. Spread the word as much as possible and work to capture these grifters.
You have to be careful when renting these days as the current state of the economy has ushered in plenty of rental scams. Many would be Renters have provided deposits only to find the person who placed the ad did not even own the property and their deposit, if not more, has vanished.
I shy towards the conservative in these situations; personally, I would move on unless you plan on doing some research. For example:
a) See if you can find/confirm the property/owners name at http://www.blockshopper.com
b) Contact an agent and let them know you are concerned about being scammed and ask them to check the public tax records to confirm the property's ownership and mailing address. If the property address is a rental it will sometimes show the true owner's mailing address.
c) Go to the property with a friend and knock on the door (or simply drop off a note regarding the status of the property) and ask the occupant questions.
McGuire Real Estate