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  • 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.

     
  • Geebo 9:11 am on March 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3d printed home, real estate   

    Could 3D printed homes help the housing crisis? 

    Could 3D printed homes help the housing crisis?

    It’s no secret that there is a housing crisis not just here in the US but around the world. Too many families worldwide do not have access to affordable or sustainable housing. Now, a proof of concept home has been developed that its developers are hoping to help end that crisis. Recently, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, two companies joined together to present what they refer to as a 3D printed home.

    ICON is a company that has developed a machine that is basically a 3D mobile printer that lays out a home in concrete. They’ve partnered with a non-profit called New Story whose goal it is to build homes in developing nations. Together, they’ve developed a 600 square foot concrete home that can be built for less than $10,000. The companies are hoping to get the cost down to about $4,000 in future developments.

    While the houses may not be the most palatial they could go a long way in helping people. Shelter is one of the most basic human needs and with a project like this many of those struggling could afford the dignity to be able to call someplace home that’s inexpensive but still sturdy. This endeavor has great potential and more projects like this need to come out of Silicon Valley instead of yet another social app.

     
  • Geebo 9:08 am on March 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , deadbolt, real estate,   

    Scam victim living in house illegally 

    Scam victim living in house illegally

    A man in Colorado is living in a house illegally after falling victim to a rental scam. The man found a home for rent on craigslist and wired $3000 to the people claiming to be the landlords. In return, the ‘landlords’ were able to give the man the access code to the home’s deadbolt. This is not unlike a similar scam we posted about back in November where scammers were hacking the electronic lockboxes used by realtors

    Once the victim in this case realized he had been scammed he contacted police, but now he may find himself out on the street. He asked the rental company if there was any way he could stay there but the company wants him off the premises. Again, it appears that the weak link in the security is the electronic deadbolt used by the rental company. As shown in the video below, many of these types of locks can be hacked remotely.

    However, as I’m sure you’ve surmised by now, the first mistake made in this unfortunate story was the victim wiring the money to someone before seeing the home. When dealing with sites that are a haven for scammers like craigslist, you should never wire money to anybody you don’t know personally. Not only could that money be received anywhere in the world, but it’s almost impossible to get the money back once it’s been transferred. While we hope this man lands on his feet, let his story serve as a cautionary tale to others when using unscrupulous classified sites.

     
  • Geebo 9:58 am on December 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, , Santa Barbara,   

    Craigslist used in multi-million dollar real estate scam 

    Craigslist used in multi-million dollar real estate scam

    Real estate scams are nothing new for craigslist. They’ve been going on for almost as long as the website has been around. As we’ve detailed in the past, the way these scams normally work is someone posts an ad for a property for rent at a price often deemed too good to be true. The scammer then usually offers some excuse as to why they can’t show the home and asks for some kind of deposit or application fee. Then it turns out that they don’t even own the property. However, a couple from California were recently indicted in federal court for exploiting people for millions of dollars using a new twist on the old scam.

    49-year-old Michael Davenport and 51-year-old Cynthia Rawlinson of Santa Barbara, California have been indicted in federal court for running a real estate scam that allegedly bilked thousands of people out of close to $27 million. How the scam is said to have worked is that the pair, doing business under several company names such as MDSQ Productions, LLC, Housing Standard, LLC, Anchor House Financial, American Standard, American Standard Online, and Your American Standard, would post ads on craigslist about properties for sale and rent at bargain prices. Once someone would inquire about the property they would be told that they would have to purchase the company’s list of properties. The problem with the list was that many of the properties were not owned by any of the companies and some were even said to be non-existent. This scam is said to have gone on for seven years before any charges were finally brought against the alleged scammers.

    This really should come as no surprise as when one thinks of committing real estate scams the first place they probably think of pulling it off is craigslist. Due to the fact that craigslist never seems to review their ads for potential fraud, nor doesn’t appear to do anything else to dissuade fraudulent ads, it makes craigslist the perfect breeding ground for scams large and small.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on November 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, ,   

    Rental scam continues to claim victims 

    Rental scam continues to claim victims

    Normally, we only post about online scams when either a new one turns up or there’s a new twist on an old scam. Unfortunately, consumers are still falling for one of the oldest online scams in the virtual book. So we thought we’d take another look at the old standby, the rental scam.

    For those who may not know, the rental scam works like this. The scammer will find a house for sale, usually on the site of a reputable realtor. They’ll then copy that ad then change it from a property being for sale to one that’s for rent. They’ll then follow this up by posting their fake ad on an unmodertaed classifieds site like craigslist. The rent will also be listed at below market values. When a consumer responds to the ad, the scammer will try to collect some kind of upfront fee, usually disguised as a rental application fee or some kind of deposit. Usually, the scammers will make some kind of excuse as to why they can’t show you the home while still asking you for money. These scams are usually designed to prey on those who are desperate to resolve a housing situation crisis in their lives.

    Recently, in Memphis, Tennessee, a scammer was able to con several people out of hundreds of dollars each for a property they did not own. The alleged scammer was said to have used the very same tactics we posted above. This is not an uncommon occurrence as it happens all over the country all the time. For example, here’s a similar report out of the Tampa, Florida area.

    In order to avoid these scams we first recommend not using unmoderated classifieds site as they’re not reviewing ads for possible fraud. Secondly, if the rent seems too good to be true it probably is. Don’t ever give money to someone without being able to walk through the property. If the seller claims to be out of the area, pass on the property. Always check with the county appraiser’s website or office to see if the property is actually available for rent. Lastly, you may not be looking for a rental property, but if someone you know is, please share this post and this blog with them in order to help educate them about this prevalent scam.

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on November 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: lockbox, real estate, ,   

    Beware of lockbox rental scams 

    Beware of lockbox rental scams

    Reports have come out of the Treasure Valley section of Idaho where a new rental property scam has been taking place. The new scam starts out as the usual rental scam with the scammers copying a legitimate real estate ad then pasting it on to less than trustworthy classifieds sites. However, the scam takes a new twist when it comes to accessing the electronic lockbox used to secure the property for realtors and landlords. Specifically, the scammers have been targeting lockboxes given out by a company called Rently.

    Here’s how the lockboxes are normally supposed to work…

    Unfortunately, victims of the scam then give out the Rently access code to the scammers. The scammers then get access to the property and are able to show it to prospective victims like they own the property which makes it easier for scammers to ask victims for money in the form of non-existent security deposits and the like.

    If you’re looking for a property and end up needing to use one of these electronic lockbox devices, don’t ever give out the security access code to third parties. Also, you may think that since this scam is happening nowhere near you it can’t affect you, but if it’s happening in one area of the country there’s a good chance it could be happening in multiple locales.

     
  • Geebo 8:54 am on August 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, ,   

    Zillow has Zestimate lawsuit thrown out 

    Zillow has Zestimate lawsuit thrown out

    Back in May, we posted how real estate site Zillow was being sued over their ‘Zestimate’ feature. The lawsuit claimed Zillow’s estimates were undervaluing the homes which were being sold on Zillow and that Zestimates were a de facto appraisal. In Illinois, where the suit was filed, all real estate appraisers have to be licensed in the state.

    Zillow can breathe a zigh of relief for now, as the lawsuit has been dismissed by a U.S. District Judge in Chicago. The judge ruled the portmanteau of Zillow and estimate, creating Zestimate, clearly shows consumers it is an estimate and not an appraisal and Zestimates were just a starting point for people looking to buy a home. The judge also ruled Zillow did not violate Illinois’ Real Estate Appraiser Licensing Act.

    The plaintiffs will no doubt try to file an amended lawsuit since they still claim Zestimates are affecting property values negatively.

     
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