A TikTok video has gone viral after a tenant claimed she used Adobe Photoshop to alter her pay stubs and bank statements to apply for an apartment lease.
“Guys, I Photoshopped my bank statements and my pay stubs to get my one-bedroom apartment in New York City,” says TikTok user Maggie Lalley (@magslals) in a video with over 806,000 views. “If you want to live alone, get Adobe.”
@magslals The only way to live alone in #nyc 😂 #nycapartment #realtor #realtoroftiktok #apthunting #realestate #newyorkcity #nycapartment #ny #fy #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #viral #viralvideo #relatable #money #lifehack #lifehacks ♬ original sound – Maggie Lalley
For those concerned, Maggie says the idea behind the video is a joke.
Lalley is an NYC-based comedian who frequently makes sketches and other comedy videos on her TikTok page and Twitter account. After a tweet with the same script went viral, she followed it up by clarifying “To be clear I’m joking.” In a comment under her TikTok, she added that she would be “way too scared to actually do this.”
If one were to actually do this, they would be committing rental-application fraud and could be subject to criminal prosecution if caught.
That said, this crime is incredibly common. In New York City alone, the rental-application fraud rate is around 6%, claims CEO and co-founder of Snappt, Daniel Berlind. Snappt is a company that works to detect rental fraud.
In a 2022 article for Curbed, author Kim Velsey speculates as to why this might be the case.
”In New York, where rents are high and the rental requirements extensive — it’s not unusual for landlords to ask for a credit score above 700, multiple months of bank statements, letters of employment, references, and pay stubs proving renters make at least 40 times the rent (or failing that, guarantors who make at least 80 times) — renters who lack the desired credentials say they have little choice but to lie,” Velsey details.
Although Lalley’s video may be a joke, many users in the comments confessed to doing the same thing or something similar.
“I’ve been doing this since my first apt 15 years ago,” wrote one user. “Idk how else ppl get apts tbh.”
“That’s how I got my 2018 ford explore, 3 of my past apartment’s and pretty much all my loans,” added another.
“When I was a store manager I used to write letters ‘verifying’ my employees’ pay to get apartments,” shared a third. “Qualified income proof is bs.”
However, some users warned against this, saying that even if one is not prosecuted, their forgery may be detected and they will be refused the apartment.
“Some companies use income authentication which looks at the background makeup. Not all look but some do,” explained a user.
“Don’t do it for a loan for buying a home. The lenders do audits and verify with your employer that the stubs/W-2 you provided match their records,” claimed a second.
“Until the have an income verification software system that runs the second additional check,” offered a third.
The Daily Dot reached out to Lalley via email.