When a storage unit is abandoned, the facility renting the unit goes through efforts to contact the owner to retrieve their items. If that doesn’t work, the storage unit can go up for auction.
Most of the time, these storage units contain some personal items and a few valuables that buyers may try to flip for a profit. However, there’s always a chance that a buyer finds something incredible. For example, in 2016, an art collector bought a storage unit for $15,000—it was later discovered that the storage unit contained several original pieces by artist Willem de Kooning worth up to $10 million at auction.
That said, any area where one can make money is also an area where one can be scammed, as TikTok user Vincent Broadway (@vbroadwayfinds) recently noted.
In a video with over 60,000 views, Broadway says he bought a unit for $2,000 based on images provided with the unit. When he arrived, he discovered the photos had been staged.
@vbroadwayfinds I paid 2,000 dolllars only to learn this was a staged unit. This is what a scammer unit looks like. I am fine with taking risks but this was a setup. Thank you for @American Express for sticking with your customer #storagewars #scammed #lost #notworthit #fyp #fyi #bolo #tricked #foryourpage #storageunit #americanexpress ♬ Paint The Town Red – Doja Cat
The photos, Broadway says, made the storage unit seem like a good deal.
“It all looked pretty organized in tubs,” he says. “There was a nice $1,000 industrial dehumidifier, some comics, a safe, and some shoeboxes.”
However, once he arrived and opened the storage unit, “a bunch of the stuff fell out,” he says—indicating that items in the unit had been recently moved.
“All the stuff that was in the unit to make it look good was definitely all put in there after the fact by either the person that staged the unit or the facility,” Broadway details. “I don’t think it was the facility; I think it was the person who owned the unit.”
Finding the rest of the unit worthless, he took the issue to the facility’s management, who said that there was nothing they could do. However, given that Broadway paid for something that was not provided to him, he was able to dispute the charge with his credit card. He won the dispute.
This is not a new scam. For example, a user on Reddit shared a similar story on r/Flipping, claiming that the photos of their unit did not match the unit they received upon arrival. It’s unclear whether the Redditor received a refund, though his comments on the post indicated that he was in the process of getting his money back.
Back on TikTok, some commenters claimed that losses like these were simply part of the work.
“I guess in the line of work your in there’s always a possibility this will happen… thats on you,” wrote a user.
“So cashing in on someone else’s misfortune didn’t work out for you? Are we supposed to feel bad about that?” asked another.
However, Broadway responded that he was OK with not making a profit. The issue he had was that he was sold one thing and was given something else.
“Im fine with losing but its another scenario when its been staged to look like that so the owner can get a big check,” he explained in a comment.
The Daily Dot reached out to Broadway via Instagram direct message.