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  • Geebo 8:10 am on August 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, realtors,   

    Gift card scam targets new victims 

    Gift card scam targets new victims

    Gift card scams are nothing new. They’ve almost become as prevalent as the fake check scams. With the gift card scam, scammers will normally pose as various authorities with threatening situations in order to get their victims to pay them with gift cards. For example, in one scam the scammers will pose as local police and tell their victims that they have a warrant out for their arrest but they can avoid the arrest if they pay a fine with any number of gift cards. The point of this scam is for the scammers to get the serial numbers of the gift cards which are virtually untraceable once the numbers are given to the scammers. Now, scammers are targeting a new demographic with this scam.

    According to a report out of Idaho, scammers are targeting real estate agents with the hopes of getting the gift card numbers. The scammers have been texting or emailing agents posing as the agents’ bosses asking the agents to pick up gift cards that are supposedly meant for clients. The messages come in on email addresses and phone numbers that are close to the head realtor’s but are obvious fakes. One realtor has stated that he thinks that they’re being targeted since due to their profession they’re very visible on social media.

    Once again, if someone contacts you trying to get you to pay some kind of fee or fine with gift cards it’s more than likely a scam. The only places that tend to accept gift cards as payments are the services they were intended for. No legitimate government agency or bill collector will ask for gift cards as payment. If you receive one of these threatening calls or emails first contact the service the scammers are posing as directly to make sure it is a scam, then contact your local police. While the scammers may not be caught, at least the public could be warned about the scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: real estate, ,   

    Even realtors don’t know this scam 

    Even realtors don't know this scam

    One of the most prolific online scams is that of home rentals. A realtor will list a property for sale but scammers will copy the ad and claim the home is for rent. Then, the scammers will make up some kind of story as to why they can’t show you the property but are still willing to rent the home as long as they get a deposit and first month’s rent. It’s then the scammers will make off with the victim’s money while leaving them without a place to live. What’s even more surprising is that not all realtors are aware of this scam.

    In Racine, Wisconsin, a woman was looking for a rental property and found one with rent payments that were more than reasonable. The person who placed the ad claimed that they were hard of hearing and couldn’t respond by phone and that they were away on work so they couldn’t show the inside of the property. Thankfully, the woman decided to run by the property where she found a realtor’s sign posted outside. She called the realtor who told her the home had actually been sold and the ad that she had seen was a fake. What is most surprising about this story is that the realtor wasn’t aware of such scams considering how often it happens across America.

    As always, if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is. Always be suspicious of rents that are lower than the usual market value. Another red flag to look out for is if the supposed landlord can’t show the property and gives you some kind of convoluted story as to why. Some good ways to try to avoid this scam is to take the pictures in the ad and perform a reverse image search on Google or by checking your county’s assessor’s website or office to verify the true owner of the property.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, Realogy, Smart Home, TurnKey   

    Would you live in an Amazon watched house? 

    Would you live in an Amazon watched house?

    Having a ‘smart’ home has been a craze for tech’s early adopters for some time now. Whether it’s smart lights that can operate on voice command or thermostats that can be operated remotely, the number of gadgets that can be installed in your home seem to be in a never-ending supply. However, it seems that a near-monopoly has been created in the smart home market with either Google or Amazon buying up most of the startups that initially gave rise to the modern smart home idea. Now one of those companies wants to help you buy a house with their devices already built in.

    Amazon has teamed with realtors Realogy to help you get into a new home and not one of the prefab tiny homes you can order on Amazon. The reason this partnership has been made was for Amazon to get you integrated into Amazon’s smart home ecosystem. For example, if you purchase a home worth $700,000 or more you’ll receive $5,000 in Amazon smart devices and services. This includes Ring doorbells, Amazon Echos, among other Amazon-related smart home gear and services. This program, called TurnKey, has launched in 15 major cities including San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, and Chicago just to name a few.

    Of course, there are drawbacks to owning such a home. The first concern is privacy. Amazon has courted controversy with its almost always-listening Echo devices. Reportedly, Echo devices not only record your voice but keep it stored in Amazon’s cloud servers indefinitely. The second concern is obsolescence. While these devices and services may seem like a convenience now, what if Amazon decided for whatever reason to stop supporting these devices. The majority of these devices rely on Amazon hosting these services in the cloud. If Amazon decides to pull the plug one day, you’d be left with a bunch of defunct gadgets in need of immediate replacement. More immediately, what if Amazon has any downtime on these services? If these services go down nationally that could potentially make your home a target as we’re sure any kind of outage like that would make national news.

    While the allure of free Amazon devices may seem like a strong one, you may want to weigh your options before giving into it.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: foreclosure, real estate, reverse mortgage   

    A Reverse Mortgage could leave you homeless! 

    A Reverse Mortgage could leave you homeless!

    You may have seen the commercial on TV. A celebrity spokesperson talks about how seniors could receive additional income by taking out a reverse mortgage on their home. You wonder if this is right for you or possibly an older relative. You might have heard of a friend or relative who got a reverse mortgage and as far as you know they’re doing ok. How bad could it be? Unfortunately, reverse mortgages are costing many seniors their homes and leaving them with nowhere to turn.

    Reverse mortgages are essentially a loan given to you on the equity of your home. They are typically available to those who are 62 or older. No payments are required to be made until the person either moves out of the home or dies. However, unlike a regular mortgage, with a reverse mortgage, you need to jump through several hoops to make sure the loan doesn’t go into default. You need to maintain things such as property taxes and insurance for your home, If either lapse, the lender could foreclose on the home. While that sounds easy enough to maintain, an illness or death of a spouse could leave someone unable to keep up with paperwork which could result in the loss of their home.

    According to one report, there are 15,000 reverse mortgages that are in danger of defaulting in the state of Florida alone. From 2012-2017, over 16,000 homes went into foreclosure in the Sunshine State after taking out a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages may solve a short-term income problem but many experts say that in the long run doesn’t provide any real financial security.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , paypal scam, real estate, , , ,   

    The Armslist gun sale scam and more 

    The Armslist gun sale scam and more

    We’re back again with another trio of scams to be on the lookout for.

    It seems that the much-criticized Armslist isn’t immune to scams as a woman from Western Pennsylvania has been charged with defrauding users of the website. The woman allegedly advertised several firearms for sale on the controversial site and collected the payments for them in money orders. However, she did not have any of the actual guns for sale and she’s accused of keeping all the money for herself. There’s no word on whether or not any background checks were completed on any of the victims.

    ***

    A man from Silver Lake, Washington was trying to sell his late wife’s wedding ring on craigslist when he was approached with an out-of-state offer. The man then received a bogus email stating that the money for the ring had reached his PayPal account. The man sent the ring but the money wasn’t actually there. Amazingly, after he contacted the police the ring was found in Illinois. This is a rare occurrence on the scale of a solar eclipse. Ok, maybe not that rare but it is remarkable that the man was able to get the ring back as in most cases once the item has been shipped it’s usually gone forever. In most cases, you should only deal locally and only in cash and when completing the transaction it should be done at a local police station.

    ***

    Lastly for today, a rental scam that we’ve discussed before has started popping up again and that’s the lockbox scam. The scam works like the typical rental scam where someone claiming to be a landlord will rent you a property sight unseen if you wire them a deposit. With the lockbox scam, the phony landlords have somehow gained access to the realtor’s lockbox on the property that contains a key to the home. A family in Phoenix, Arizona recently fell for this scam and even moved into the property after wiring their money to a scammer. Sadly, they had to be evicted from the property. Under no circumstance should you ever wire funds to someone you’ve never met. Most legitimate property managers will do background checks on prospective renters and will meet them in person.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beaches, , , real estate, , ,   

    Delaware DOJ warns of Summer vacation rental scams 

    Delaware DOJ warns of Summer vacation rental scams

    Even though we are barely into the Spring season some consumers are already looking ahead to the Summer. If you’ve ever lived within driving distance of one of our nation’s beaches, you know that rental properties fill up fast and if you’re planning a Summer vacation there you have to get the jump on everyone else. Unfortunately, rental scammers are well aware of this and are trying to take advantage of unwitting vacationers. If you’re not familiar with the state of Delaware, they have some very nice beaches that are very popular with tourists. Some Delaware residents even travel to the South Jersey shore to vacation there. However, the First State is warning residents to be wary of vacation rental scams.

    The Delaware Department of Justice recently released a notice warning Delaware residents of potential vacation rental scams that could be happening in their area. Unsurprisingly, the Delaware DOJ singles out craigslist as one of the problem areas where these scams exist. Vacation rental scams work much the same way as any rental scam. A scammer will copy a legitimate ad for a rental property then post a similar ad on craigslist as if the scammer is the landlord. Once the scammer receives payment they disappear with your money while your vacation plans are ruined. This type of scam is not just limited to Delaware either.

    The Delaware DOJ offers some tips on how to not get scammed such as working with a realtor, using internet searches to make sure the property doesn’t have duplicate ads and using county property registries to make sure the property owner is who they say they are. We would also recommend not paying through unconventional means like wire transfers or gift cars as these are definitely red flags for scams. With just a little bit of homework and preparation, you can avoid having your summer vacation ruined by those looking to take advantage of people who just want to spend a few days at the beach.

     
  • Geebo 10:21 am on August 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate,   

    The house where craigslist was born is up for sale 

    The house where craigslist was born is up for sale

    The San Francisco condo where Craig Newmark founded his eponymous list has gone up for sale. For a cool $1.4 million you could own the three-bed, one-bath, 1,250 square-foot, condo with a backyard. It sounds like the perfect place for some up and coming startup CEO who just got their first round of funding. I mean it’s not like an actual working family could afford it or anything.

    Mr. Newmark himself hasn’t lived in the condo since 2005. Since then he’s bought a $6 million home in New York City that takes up two floors of a four-story building in addition to his primary residence in the San Francisco Bay Area that I’m sure must have cost him a pretty penny. Yet over the years, Craig Newmark has said that craigslist’s profits are so small that the company can’t hire additional employees such as moderators or customer service agents. The profits must at least be enough that he can afford multi-million dollar homes in the most expensive real estate markets on both coasts.

    Not surprisingly, the realtor who is handling the condo’s sale has not listed the property on craigslist. How ironic would it be if someone posted a phony ad on craigslist purporting to rent the condo out below market value? You know, like all the homes that claim to be up for rent on craigslist where scammers steal money from people looking for homes. The same phony real estate ads that craigslist does nothing to prevent from being posted in the first place.

     
  • Geebo 9:11 am on June 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, , , threats   

    Craigslist scammer pulls gun on victim 

    Craigslist scammer pulls gun on victim

    We’ve written about home rental scams on craigslist many times before. For those of you who may not be familiar with them, a scammer will typically post an ad on craigslist renting a property they don’t actually own. They do this in order to collect fees up front for either rent or some kind of deposit. In the past people have even moved into properties they thought they had rented only to find out they’ve been had. While many of these scammers are located overseas, there are plenty of domestic scammers as well.

    In Pueblo, Colorado, one particular scammer has been arrested after allegedly physically threatening his victims and even brandishing a gun at one point. Police say that this particular con man tried renting the same property to five different families in Pueblo. Some of these families even had some of their possessions moved in only to find themselves locked out of the property and their belongings were gone. When one of the victims confronted the accused scammer, the scammer was said to have pulled a gun on the victim. Another victim claims that the scammer threatened to burn the property down while the victims were trying to live in it. The scammer was able to collect at least $4,000 from his victims.

    While scammers don’t usually tend to be this violent there is always that possibility. Due to the proliferation of these types of scams on craigslist and craigslist’s unwillingness to moderate their ads, almost every rental ad on craigslist should be seen as suspect. The housing crisis in this country is bad enough for many families without having to deal with criminals like this. The best way to avoid scams like this is to check with your county appraiser’s website or office to see if the property is actually available for rent.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, ,   

    Smart rental service allows scammers to rent houses they don’t own 

    Smart rental service allows scammers to rent houses they don't own

    We’ve discussed rental service Rently before on this blog. Basically, they are a service that allows rental properties to be seen by prospective renters without anyone having to be there. While it sounds like an idea of great convenience on paper, it’s allowed scammers to take advantage of renters.

    For example, in Indiana, a family found themselves out of $1700 after they thought they had legitimately rented a home that they found on craigslist. That’s not to say there weren’t warning signs. The fake renter claimed he was out-of-town for a wedding but gave the family the access code to the lockbox which contained the keys to the property. Due to the fact that the family had access to the keys, they felt like this transaction was on the level. They then wired the money to the phony seller. As it turns out, it’s not exactly difficult to get the keys from a Rently lockbox. According to a local news report, all you need to do is answer a few questions in order to gain access to the lockbox. What you can do with the keys after that is up to your imagination. Their introduction video from their website even mentions that their service could be vulnerable to scammers.

    The video also notes that anyone wishing to gain access to a property needs to have a valid credit or debit card, however, that can be easily circumvented.

    While the idea of Rently sounds great in theory, there are too many ways to exploit the service to make it a viable alternative to having a real estate agent or property manager show someone around the home. When security is sacrificed in the name of convenience, you don’t really have either.

     
  • Geebo 9:37 am on May 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, ,   

    Craigslist scammer steals entire home 

    Craigslist scammer steals entire home

    We’ve discussed many real estate scams on this blog for the past couple of years. The most common one is when a home is listed for rent on craigslist by someone who doesn’t actually own the property. Usually, this is done to try to fleece prospective renters out of some kind of deposit or background check fee. More recently. we’ve heard of a scam that not only takes the cake, but it takes the whole house.

    In Missouri City, Texas, a couple was looking to put their home on the market. They were approached by a woman claiming to be a realtor. The homeowners signed something they thought was giving the woman permission to be their realtor. Instead, what they actually signed was a document that allegedly turned ownership of the home to the realtor for free.

    “These people changed our deed. They had got a power of attorney over our home, all the forms were notarized, but we’ve never been in front of a notary, never signed paperwork. Everything they’ve done was fraudulent.”

    To make matters worse, the alleged phony realtor listed the home for rent on craigslist and was able to lease it out to someone else who has since moved into the home. So far, no criminal charges have been filed but police are investigating.

    Trying to sell a home is hard enough without having to deal with scammers and con artists. If you’re approached by a realtor unsolicited, many states have a Real Estate Commission website where you can check to see if the realtor is legitimate.

     
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