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  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , craigslist, , ,   

    New scam targets online sellers 

    By Greg Collier

    If you sell something online, there are a number of scams that you have to look out for. One of the most common ones is the fake check scam. In this scam, scammers will feign interest in whatever you’re selling before sending you a check for more than the price you were asking. They’ll claim a mistake was made and will ask you to deposit the check and send them the overage amount. It’s typically not until the seller sends back the overage that they find out the check was fake. At this point, the seller becomes responsible for the entire amount of the check, plus any service fees to their bank. Meanwhile, scammers make off with the amount that the seller sent them.

    According to a report out of New England, scammers are using a new ploy to try to get online sellers to deposit the scammers’ phony checks. Some scammers are said to be targeting people who are selling high-end items of larger sizes. For example, a couple from Maine were trying to sell living room furniture on Craigslist. The scammers said they would need to hire movers to pick up the furniture. The sellers were sent a cashier’s check and were told to hire the movers themselves using the overage from the check. The movers the scammers told them to use were said to also be in on the scam. That likely means that the movers don’t even exist and are just a part of the scam. Thankfully, the couple did not fall for the scam.

    Anytime you’re dealing with an online marketplace, there are a few good rules to follow to avoid being scammed. You should really only deal with people who are local. Scammers will often give excuses as to why they can’t meet in person, such as being from out of state. Only accept cash, as most other forms of payment can be manipulated in such a way that a seller may receive no payment at all. Lastly, whenever it’s feasible, make the transaction at your local police department. Again, while it’s not a guarantee you won’t get scammed, meeting at a police department will go a long way in discouraging not only scammers but other bad actors as well. Many police departments now have designated areas for making such an exchange.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on November 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: craigslist, , , ,   

    Scammers stealing phone numbers from online sellers 

    Scammers stealing phone numbers from online sellers

    By Greg Collier

    When you use an unmoderated online marketplace like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, there’s a better than average chance that you’ll be dealing with at least one scammer. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying or selling, but today we’re going to focus on the latest scam that’s been plaguing sellers in recent months. While it’s not a new scam, online security experts say that they’ve seen a resurgence of the scam since August. It goes by a few names, like the verification code scam or the Google Voice scam, but it’s still a scam that everyone should be aware of.

    Scammers are approaching online sellers as if they’re interested in the item being sold. The scammers will ironically tell the seller that they’re concerned about scams and that they have a way to verify that the seller is a real person. The seller will then receive a text message with a verification code on it, and the scammers will ask for this code. Once the scammers have the code, they’ll use it to open a Google Voice account using the seller’s phone number. This is done so the scammers can have a legitimate US phone number that can be used in future scams. Meanwhile, the seller is completely unaware that a Google Voice account has been opened in their name. And if someone complains to Google that the number is being used in a scam, it will trace back to the seller’s phone number and not the scammers’.

    There are a couple of ways to avoid falling victim to this scam. The first way is that if you receive one of these verification texts, the text will say not to share the number with anyone. Verification code texts are also used by scammers to bypass two-factor authentication. So no matter who sent the text, never share any verification codes. The second way to help avoid this scam is to get your own Google Voice number. They can be very handy, such as giving your Google Voice number to any store or website that asks for a phone number at checkout. Instead of giving them your actual phone number, you can give them the Google Voice number instead.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: craigslist, landlords, , ,   

    The rental scam from the landlord’s perspective can teach us a lot 

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, landlords have gotten a bad rap due to the eviction crisis brought about by the pandemic. However, many of them are just hardworking people using a property investment to make their living. When it comes to rental scams, we don’t often think of the legitimate landlord as being a victim of the scam. While they may not be losing money like the typical rental scam victim, they are spending precious time and resources to combat the scammers.

    In a typical rental scam, scammers will copy a legitimate listing of a home that’s for rent or for sale. The scammers will then post the property for rent on unmoderated platforms like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Usually, the property will be listed at below-market value rent to try to entice a victim. Once the victim is hooked, the scammers will ask for money in the form of a deposit or first and last month’s rent. Some victims have even tried to move into the property, only to find that someone else is legally living there.

    A landlord from Vermont was recently interviewed by her local media, and she said that she continues to see her properties listed on craigslist by scammers. She also said that scammers are listing her properties on craigslist that aren’t even up for rent. This has led to people knocking on the doors of rented homes asking if they can see the property. The landlord also said that within a 48-hour period, her team will flag up to 15 fraudulent listings on craigslist. It doesn’t help that scammers are also flagging legitimate listings on craigslist as scam ads.

    So, as we always recommend, do your research in a property before committing any money to the process. A web search of the address can reveal a lot such as the legitimate listing if it is, in fact, for rent. Such a web search can also tell you what the typical rent is for that kind of property in the area. However, the best way to prevent falling into a rental scam is to check with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find who truly owns the property.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: craigslist, , , , , ,   

    Scams increase as scramble for housing begins 

    By Greg Collier

    Currently, there is a mad dash for many people to find housing. Between people looking for summer rentals, college students returning to actual classes, and just people looking for a new place to live, housing is at a premium. As is always the case, scammers are already using the market to find victims.

    In a nutshell, scammers will copy real estate listings from legitimate realtors and post them on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The rent will be listed considerably below market value. The victim will usually be asked to make payment by money transfer or payment app. More often than not, the scammer will make an excuse as to why they can’t show you the property personally. Victims have even moved into homes before finding out that they’ve been ripped off.

    There are several steps you can take to help you avoid these scams. First, do a web search of the address of the property. If there are several listings of the same property with different contacts and wildly varying rents, then something is definitely amiss. If a listing says that the property is for sale and not for rent, the odds are pretty good that the listing with the home for sale is the actual listing. You can also carry out a reverse image search on the photos used in the listing. Sometimes the same photos will be used on multiple fraudulent listings for properties that aren’t even in the same city. However, the most secure step you can take is to check with the county’s assessor’s office or website. They’ll have all the legal information about the property.

    You can even take steps to prevent fraud if you’re the person renting the property out. If you’re selling the home, consider putting a ‘not for rent’ sign along with the for sale sign. Scammers will often come up with a story as to why the property is for rent even though there is a for sale sign. If you find your property being listed by a scammer, contact the website to have it removed. You can also set up a Google Alert with the properties address to be notified whenever someone tries to list the property fraudulently.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: craigslist, , ,   

    House keys do not make a landlord 

    House keys do not make a landlord

    By Greg Collier

    A man from the Triangle area of North Carolina recently found himself out of $4000 after falling victim to a rental scam on Craigslist. He was looking for a property to rent for his family and found one for $900 a month. That is believed to be below current market value at the time of this posting. Thinking that he had found a great bargain, the man texted the supposed owner of the home and was asked about his work history, his previous rental history and whether or not he had any pets. Sounds legit so far, right?

    The man was then asked to send a copy of his driver’s license and a selfie. The man was then told by the ‘landlord’ that the landlord will send him the combination to the lockbox so the man could get the key and tour the home. The man ended up paying a $1800 deposit when the scammer offered an even better deal. The scammer told the man that if he paid two months rent up front, the third month would be free. The man sent the scammer another $2000.

    As you can probably surmise, when the man went to move his family in, another family had already settled into the home. So, you might be wondering how the scammer was able to get the combination to the home’s lockbox. All the scammer needs to do is call the legitimate realtor and tell them that they want to tour the home. Once he gets the combination from the realtor, he gives it to the victim.

    All of the communications between the victim and the scammer were done through text and email. If a property owner, landlord, etc. doesn’t meet you in person, the odds are pretty good that you’re being scammed. Before putting any money down on a rental home, check with the county to make sure who actually owns the property and who is renting it, as many craigslist rental ads are just copied from legitimate real estate listings.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , craigslist, , , , ,   

    Rental scammer takes advantage of pandemic victims 

    Rental scammer takes advantage of pandemic victims

    By Greg Collier

    As we’ve said in the past, the rental scam is probably the most common online scam. It has several variations, but they all result in the same thing, the victim pays for a home rental. More often than not, these scammers are from overseas, however, since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we’ve seen more and more domestic scammers getting involved with rental scams. One of those scammers was recently arrested after taking advantage of desperate families for over six months.

    The 38-year-old Florida woman was said to have placed ads for rental properties on both Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. As with most rental scams, she allegedly copied ads from legitimate real estate listings and posted them online with her contact information. She is said to have collected deposits from over 20 victims who were desperate to find housing during the pandemic. Her victims ranged in age from 20 to 71. After she received the payments through a payment app she would then ignore and block her victims. Currently, she’s believed to have swindled over $20,000 from her victims.

    Rental scammers are always looking for victims who are in vulnerable situations such as needing immediate housing. This way, the scammers know they can catch their victims off-guard and get them to make mental mistakes that would benefit the scammer. These include sending money through payment apps like Zelle and Cash App. Victims who pay through these apps can be easily blocked by scammers after the victim loses their money.

    Even if you find yourself in a desperate housing situation, it always pays to research the property in question. If the property is actually for rent, the county’s tax assessor office or website will be able to tell you who actually owns the property. If the name doesn’t match the person or organization claiming to rent the property, it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: craigslist, , , , , ,   

    A lockbox doesn’t mean it’s not a scam 

    A lockbox doesn't mean it's not a scam

    By Greg Collier

    Many real estate services and platforms use what’s known as a lockbox on their rental properties. It is essentially an electronic box that allows access to the property. A prospective renter can then enter a code that gives them access to the keys so they can tour the property. A lockbox like this on a property can give the impression that whoever has access to the lockbox code must be a legitimate landlord. As we’re about to show you, that isn’t always true.

    A man from Louisville, Kentucky recently inquired about a home for rent that he found on Craigslist. That’s already not a good sign already as Craigslist has long been ground zero for internet scammers of many forms. Anyway, the supposed landlord told the Louisville man that the man can take a self-guided tour of the home using the Rently platform and provided a man with the code number for the lockbox.

    The man toured the home and told the Craigslist landlord he wanted to rent the home. The landlord said there would be a $2500 deposit and sent a lease to the man. The phony landlord almost got away with it too except he kept pressuring the man to pay the $2500. It was at this point that the man realized this might be a scam. The man then checked the property records of the home and discovered that the home wasn’t being rented by someone with the landlord’s name. Instead, it was being rented by a property management company.

    We’re not sure how the lockbox codes are falling into the hands of scammers unless the codes are not being changed regularly. If that’s the case, we can imagine a number of scenarios where the code number could be obtained.

    If you’re ever looking to rent a home that you’ve found online, we always recommend going to the county’s tax assessor office or website to verify who exactly owns the property. While it may take a little extra time and effort to find this information, it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , craigslist, , , , , vaccination card,   

    Fake vaccine cards are showing up online 

    Fake vaccine cards are showing up online

    By Greg Collier

    Previously, the Better Business Bureau warned people who received the COVID-19 vaccine not to post pictures of their vaccine cards on social media. The thought behind this was not only could these pictures potentially lead to identity theft, but scammers could make phony vaccine cards. Now it seems that one of those chickens has come home to roost.

    The Better Business Bureau of Illinois is reporting that blank vaccine card knockoffs have started appearing for sale online. Reports state that the phony cards have shown up on eBay, OfferUp, and of course Craigslist. The cards are being sold for as much as $200.

    The danger behind these cards are the fact there are people who actively avoiding getting the vaccine. Vaccine cards may start being required for things like air travel or public gatherings. If unvaccinated people are start using these cards to get around restrictions, we could potentially start seeing another wave of infections. Considering the number of people who won’t even wear a mask to the supermarket, these cards could constitute a serious health hazard to the population. Not only that, but the cards could allow unvaccinated people who are potentially carrying the disease to return to public places like job sites or schools to spread new strains of the virus to unsuspecting victims.

    If you’re thinking about buying one of these cards you may want to rethink your plan. Using falsified government documents is a crime. Keep in mind that the authentic cards are furnished by the CDC, a branch of the American government. If someone were to use one of these cards to get on a plane, and they get caught, they could be facing a pretty big fine or even jail time.

    Instead, why not just get the vaccine when it becomes available for you in your state. The shot is a lot cheaper than buying one of these phony cards, and it won’t land you in jail.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , craigslist, , , , ,   

    Why is Craigslist failing? 

    Why is Craigslist failing?

    By Greg Collier

    Since Craigslist is a privately owned company, they do not have to disclose their finances. However, the AIM Group recently asserted that Craigslist has lost close to 50% of their revenue in just two years. The AIM Group is a sort of watchdog organization that keeps tabs on the online marketplace space. They once famously referred to Craigslist as a cesspool of crime.

    Using what the AIM Group calls their proprietary methodology, Craigslist’s revenue dropped from $1 billion in 2018 to $565 million in 2020. Again, that’s an almost 50% drop in just two years. Part of the drop can absolutely be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the decline started long before lockdown. Part of the drop can also be attributed to the number of competitors that have recently started occupying the marketplace space. Other niche sites like Airbnb have also taken a chunk out of Craigslist’s userbase. However, we think it’s because of poor business decisions Craigslist has been making for the past 20 years.

    For a large majority of Craigslist’s history, it was long rumored that they received the majority of their traffic from their erotic services section. Due to mounting legal pressure over human trafficking concerns, erotic/adult services was shuttered in 2010. Craigslist’s revenues took a slight dip in 2011 but continued to climb until 2018. So, what happened in 2018 to cause such a downward spiral? That’s when Craigslist shuttered their personals section over fears of the anti-sex trafficking laws FOSTA/SESTA. After Craigslist closed their erotic services section, traffickers would instead just post their ads selling women and girls to the personals section. By closing the personals after FOSTA/SESTA was signed into law, Craigslist virtually admitted that their platform had a sex trafficking problem.

    Craigslist’s problem is that in their 26 years, they’ve refused to moderate any section of their site to keep out criminals and scammers. Craigslist only seems to moderate content on their platform when threatened with legal action. Except moderation costs money and Craigslist has a reputation of maximizing profits above all else, even at the expense of the safety of their userbase. Geebo.com and several other platforms moderate their content and still manage to be profitable. The only security measures Craigslist has is a list of safety tips and unless they change their tune, they will continue to decline.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , craigslist, , ,   

    Don’t let strangers take Grandma to her vaccination 

    Don't let strangers take Grandma to her vaccination

    In most states, seniors age 75 or older are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. One of the problems these seniors face is that they may not have reliable transportation to get to one of their state’s vaccination centers. In order to combat this problem, the state of Massachusetts has adopted a program where those who transport the senior citizen to the vaccination center can also receive the vaccine.

    The program was intended to give caregivers such as a spouse or adult child to take their loved one to get the vaccine. However, like most things that have good intentions at heart, there are those who look to take advantage of the program. Almost as soon as the program was announced, there were those who took to Craigslist offering money to seniors who would let them accompany them to the vaccination center. At least one person has offered over $1000 to allow them to accompany a senior to their vaccination.

    While it’s natural for people to be desperate to receive the vaccine, some of these offers could potentially be from scammers. Since seniors tend to be the largest target for scammers, this program has opened a golden opportunity for con artists. These scams could range from identity theft to a Medicare scam and anything in between. That’s not even taking the senior’s safety into account. Craigslist has been known to have a less than stellar reputation when it comes to user safety.

    When most of us were children, we always heard the warning of not getting into cars with strangers. If this is what we tell our children, then it should apply to our older family members as well. Do you really want a parent or grandparent getting into a vehicle with a stranger so they can get their vaccine?

     
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