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  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, ,   

    Couple scammed by phony landlord in person 

    Couple scammed by phony landlord in person

    We often discuss a lot of different scams. Sometimes we even discuss the same scam on a number of different occasions. While the advice we give about avoiding scams are often good rules to follow in general, sometimes they don’t apply to every situation. For example, when it comes to renting a property, we always say don’t rent a property where the supposed landlord either won’t meet you or refuses to show the property. While that is a good general rule to follow, what do you do when a scammer does show up to show you the property?

    This happened to a couple from Ohio recently. They found a rental property on Craigslist that appeared to be a bargain. They called the number on the Craigslist listing and the man on the other side of the call said he would meet them at the property. Instead, a woman showed up who claimed to be the landlord’s wife. The wife did not have the key to the property but was able to access a lockbox at the property that did contain the key.

    The couple signed an official-looking lease and gave the woman a $475 money order as a deposit. The couple started moving in their belongings and even had internet installed at the property.

    It was a few days later when the actual landlord showed up to tell the couple that they had been duped. The scammers had copied a legitimate rental ad and posted it to Craigslist while changing the rental amount and the phone number. It’s believed that the scammers even posed as potential renters to get the code to the lockbox. The current landlord is willing to work with the couple but not everyone who’s taken in a rental scam like this is that lucky. Too often victims of these scams find themselves out on the street.

    However, there are steps you can take to avoid falling for a scam like this. The first is that you may want to avoid using Craigslist barbecue it has become a haven for scammers of all sorts. If the listing has pictures, do a reverse image search to see if the pictures are being used on a realtor’s website. If the pictures appear on a realtor’s website and Craigslist simultaneously, it’s almost a guarantee that the Craigslist ad is a fake. Lastly, always check with the county assessor’s website or office to find who truly owns the property.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on August 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, ,   

    One website is slow to remove rental scam ads 

    One website is slow to remove rental scam ads

    In the Cleveland, Ohio area, owners of vacation homes have seen a recent increase in scams targeting their rental properties. This is hardly a new scam as it’s origins can be traced back to the early days of the commercial internet. This scam can also affect any property, not just vacation rentals.

    Several vacation rental owners have reported coming into contact with people who had been scammed into paying phony deposits to scammers posing as the landlords. Scammers had copied the ads from legitimate vacation rental websites and pasted the ad onto an unmoderated classifieds site almost word for word. The only thing the scammers changed was the contact information. Of course, the website in question is Craigslist.

    One of the vacation rental owners tried to get the ads taken down by Craigslist but they allegedly never received any feedback from Craigslist. It wasn’t until a local news channel got involved that the ads were finally pulled. When the station asked Craigslist why it took so long to remove the ads, they received no response.

    Craigslist still relies on what they call ‘community policing’. This means that they might pull an ad if enough users flag the ad. While some scam ads are obvious just by looking at them, that’s not the case with rental ads. In most cases, no one will know that a rental ad is a scam until victims start losing money to the scammers.

    There are many different ways you can protect yourself from falling prey to these scammers. One is using Geebo.com where our listings are reviewed for potential scams. You should also be wary of any landlord who can’t tell you anything about the property but is anxious to collect a deposit. If a landlord says they can’t show you the property even for COVID-19 reasons it’s probably a scam. If they ask for payment in untraceable ways like gift cards or wallet apps like Venmo and Cash App it’s more than likely a scam. You can also do a reverse image search to see if the pictures in the ad are being used somewhere else. You can even copy a snippet of the text and use that as a web search to help detect duplicate ads. Lastly, if you see duplicate ads on a rental website and Craigslist, it’s almost a sure bet that the ad on Craigslist is the fake.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, , Rhode Island,   

    Rental scam goes on for over a year 

    Rental scam goes on for over a year

    One of the oldest scams since the early days of the internet is the rental scam. Whether you’re looking to rent a house or an apartment, scammers are out there looking to take your money.

    Usually, in a rental scam, the scammer will copy an ad from a legitimate real estate agent and post it online claiming to be the landlord. The scammers will do this to get you to pay some kind of deposit or rent before disappearing with your payment. This has cost some victims thousands of dollars. Some have even moved into the property only to find out that they aren’t living there legally. More often than not, the victim will find out within a month. However, in this particular scam, the victim was living in a home for over a year.

    A man in Rhode Island found a place to rent on craigslist in his area. He lived there for a year and a half while paying rent to he thought was the owner of the property. Recently, the man received a text message from the man he had been paying rent to that said “Just want to give you a heads up I no longer manage the property, you’re on your own. I wish you luck.”

    It turns out that the home was actually in a state of foreclosure. The man who originally owned it filed for bankruptcy but was contesting the foreclosure. The case had been tied up in court for the past year and a half while the scammer collected rent. Meanwhile, the man who is now living there doesn’t know where he will go to live.

    Before renting a property you should take the time to research the property first. Do a reverse image search to make sure the property ad isn’t being copied from a legitimate realtor or landlord. You should also check with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner is. This research may take some time but in the end, it’s worth it if it means facing an uncertainty like this.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , mortgage rescue, real estate,   

    Be careful when seeking out foreclosure help 

    Be careful when seeking out foreclosure help

    With so many Americans out of work, many homeowners are having trouble making their mortgage payments. To try to keep from being evicted from their own home, some will look to so-called mortgage relief companies for assistance. Many of these companies you may see advertised through things like mailers and street fliers are not companies at all. Rather they are scammers looking to take advantage of struggling homeowners at what could be their lowest point.

    In many cases, scammers will try to get you to sign the deed of your property over to a third party. Then the homeowner is given the option to stay in the home while paying rent to the deed holder. All too often in these cases, the deed holder will be charged an astronomical rent or price the house out of reach of the original homeowner. In either case, the original homeowner could still find themselves evicted from their home. In other instances of this scam, sometimes the deed will have never been transferred. So not only will the homeowner be evicted but they’ll still be responsible for the mortgage amount.

    A different scam involves scammers calling homeowners and claiming they can help lower your mortgage payment. However, they’ll only offer this assistance if you pay a substantial fee in gift cards. These fictitious fees could be in the thousands of dollars. As we often like to remind people, no legitimate company or agency will ever ask you for payment in gift cards. Scammers often ask for gift cards because once the funds are removed from the card they become virtually untraceable.

    Instead of going to one of these potentially bogus companies, it is instead recommended that you work with your lender to see if their loan can be restructured in some way to help reduce payments. Homeowners also have the option of trying to sell their home on their own in order to pay off the mortgage.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, , ,   

    Rental scammer posed as military member 

    Rental scammer posed as military member

    Rental scammers are always looking for new excuses to give their victims as to why they can’t meet them face to face. Most recently, rental scammers used the excuse of social distancing to explain their reluctance to meet. In the past, a popular excuse with scammers was that they claimed to be working overseas on a religious mission. All the excuses are used to achieve the same effect. They do this to try to avoid suspicion in the fact that they don’t have the authority to rent the property they claim to own and to get you to make a payment sight unseen. One of the classic excuses seems to be making a comeback and that’s the scammers posing as members of the military.

    San Diego, California is a huge military town, especially for naval forces. The city has seven military bases mostly for the Navy and Marines with a single Coast Guard base. Scammers will try to use the city’s relationship with the military to their advantage. Unfortunately, it worked against one family in San Diego who were looking for a new place to live. They had found a listing on craigslist that appeared to be a really good deal. The person who claimed to own the property also claimed that they were stationed overseas with the Navy. The family wired $1600 to the scammer before they found out the listing was a fake. The scammers had even used the picture of a real serviceman who passed away a few years ago. This scam isn’t limited to just military towns as it has been used all over the country.

    If a prospective landlord ever says that they can’t meet you in person for whatever reason, it’s almost assuredly a scam. Also, if the landlord requests payment through unconventional means like wire transfer or gift cards, it is also almost assuredly a scam. If they claim to be currently overseas for whatever reason, they are almost assuredly a scammer.

    While you may be in a rush to find a new home it’s always worth taking the time to research the property. You should always do a reverse image search to make sure the property ad isn’t being copied from a legitimate realtor or landlord. Lastly, you should also check with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner is. This research may take some time but in the end, it’s worth it to avoid finding yourself in a situation like this.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, ,   

    More details about COVID rental scam 

    More details about COVID rental scam

    It seems the rental scammers have gone all-in during the current pandemic. Prior to the current social distancing guidelines, rental scammers would make up any excuse they could to avoid meeting their victims face to face.

    In a typical rental scam, the scammer will copy a legitimate real estate ad. Usually, the property from the real estate ad is for sale. The scammer will then change the ad to appear the property is for rent before posting the phony ad on someplace like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. The fake rental rate will almost always be well below the current market value. When someone applies to the fake ad, the scammer will try to pressure the victim into sending either a deposit or first month’s rent without allowing the victim to inspect the property. The scammers would give excuses like they were out of town on business and couldn’t show the property. In many cases, scammers used to say they were overseas doing mission work for their church. The range of excuses the scammers would give would range from the ridiculous to the sublime. Now, with COVID-19 still looming as a potential health threat, the scammers have a built-in excuse not to meet with their victims.

    To make matters worse, scammers are now using a new trick when questioned if an is fake. In the San Francisco Bay Area, one man questioned whether or not a rental listing on Craigslist was a scam since the property was below local market value. The scammer responded by saying that the federal government has asked property owners to lower rents during the current crisis. Of course, the federal government has done no such thing. The confusion is understandable as both local and federal governments have made many conflicting statements about the pandemic.

    Usually, the scammer will ask for payment through some untraceable means like wire transfer, gift card, Cash App, or cryptocurrency. If a landlord asks for payment in any of these ways, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

     
  • Geebo 7:31 am on April 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, , ,   

    Virtual rental scam keeps claiming victims 

    Virtual rental scam keeps claiming victims

    Last week, we posted an entry about victims who were taken in by a new type of rental scam. In this scam, phony landlords are saying they can’t meet with prospective renters because of the quarantine. The scammers would then send their victims a link so they could take a virtual tour of the home. As with all rental scams, the scammers would collect rent or deposits for properties they don’t own. Many of the victims move into the property thinking they’re now renting the property only to find out that they’ve been had. Now it seems that this virtual rental scam is becoming more commonplace.

    More recently in Texas, a woman and her son had moved into a new home before finding out from the property manager that she was there illegally. She had found the listing for the home on craigslist. When she had inquired about the home, the scammer sent her a link to a website called Rently so she could see the home virtually. Rently is a legitimate website but anyone can go on it and view rental properties. The scammer then collected the first month’s rent of $1500 through a payment app. After the woman realized she had been scammed she was able to get her money back from her bank’s app but it most cases, that money is lost forever.

    One of the red flags, in this case, was that the photos of the property were watermarked by the rental company. The scammer said that the rental company wasn’t moving the property fast enough so they listed the property on craigslist. Scammers often copy legitimate listings from rental companies or real estate agencies to pass off as their own. Another red flag was the scammer asking for payment through a payment app. You should never use Cash App or Venmo for payments to someone you don’t know as these apps are favored by scammers due to their anonymity.

    Even in the time of social distancing, you should still always ask for a face to face meeting. You can still practice safe social distancing during one of these meetings. Always do a reverse image search of the property to make sure the listing hasn’t been copied. Lastly, you should also check with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner is. This research may take some time but in the end, it’s worth it to avoid finding yourself in a situation like this.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, ,   

    Covid-19 used as part of rental scam 

    Covid-19 used as part of rental scam

    Scammers keep using the current covid-19 pandemic to their advantage in new and creative ways by applying it to scams that have been in practice for years. One of the most common scams that we’ve discussed is the rental scam. This is where a scammer posts an ad online for a rental property they claim to own. The rent is almost always advertised as below market value. Also, the rent is almost always asked for without being to see the dwelling itself or meeting the landlord. In previous instances of the scam, scammers would give various reasons as to why they couldn’t meet the prospective tenants or show the property. Now, it seems that covid-19 precaution is being used as an excuse.

    In Thornton, Colorado three different families fell for the same rental scam thinking they all had just rented a home for their families. Instead, they were taken by a con artist. The scammer had posted the home for rent on Facebook Marketplace. When potential renters would inquire about the home the scammer allegedly told them that due to covid-19 concerns he would give a virtual tour of the home. One victim of the scam paid $2500 to the scammer as a deposit. While the news report doesn’t say how payment was made, it’s safe to assume it may have been done through a wire service like Western Union or Moneygram. As you can expect, the scammer did not own the house and the property was actually being rented by a real estate agency and already promised to a tenant. This isn’t the only case of a covid-19 rental scam.

    Even in this time of social distancing, if you’re looking to rent a home never pay a prospective landlord without meeting them in person. However, before meeting them, make sure they’re the actual landlord by doing a web search on the address of the rental home. This kind of web search should turn up who is actually renting the property. For a more accurate report of who owns the property, you can check with the county’s assessor’s office or website. It’s better to put in the extra research time so you don’t end up losing money and a roof over your head.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on March 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, ,   

    Man pays six months rent in advance to scammer 

    Man pays six months rent in advance to scammer

    One of the most common scams that we discuss is the rental scam. This is where someone looking to rent a property pays money to a scammer who posses online as the landlord. We discuss it so much because unfortunately, people are still falling victim to it. It’s so common it’s almost become a daily occurrence in the news. It happens all over the country as well and usually affects those who are the most desperate for a place to live. Too often the victims of the scam end up both impoverished and without a roof over their heads.

    Recently, this happened to a man in Colorado who paid the scammers six months’ rent in advance for a home he had found online. He researched the property and found the property owner’s name, however, the scammers knew that as well and were posing as the actual owner of the property. The man paid the scammers $10,000 as a bank transfer but once the money hit the scammers account the account was closed. The man contacted the bank in hopes of getting his money back but was unable to since the account was closed and the money was gone. He had even hired an attorney to try to get the money back incurring another expense.

    The mistake the man in question made was not meeting the landlord in person or inspecting the property. All the communication between the scammers and their victim was through email and text. This is one of the biggest red flags to look out for when looking for a new place to rent. If they give you some excuse about not being able to show the property it is more than likely a scam. While you may be in a rush to find a new home it’s always worth taking the time to research the property. You should always do a reverse image search to make sure the property ad isn’t being copied from a legitimate realtor or landlord.

    It’s always better to put in the extra time so you don’t end up losing money and a roof over your head.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on February 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, ,   

    Real Estate Scams are still prevalent even offline 

    Real Estate Scams are still prevalent even offline

    With the real estate market the way it is, it’s no surprise that there are people looking to take advantage of the housing crisis. While online real estate scams have been a thing prior to the economic collapse of 2008, they have definitely picked up steam since then. While we will be discussing an online scam that is currently ongoing, some other scammers have taken the old school approach of conning their victims in person.

    Nashville, Tennessee is in the middle of an IT boom with many IT workers looking to relocate there. Because of this, scammers are running the ‘classic’ real estate scam online. The scammers are said to be copying legitimate real estate listings and posting them online as if they were renting the properties. This way they’ve been able to con victims into giving them down payments under the guise of holding the property for them. Unfortunately, it’s usually too late when victims find out they7’ve been taken with many left scrambling for a place to stay. The Tennessee State Government recommends checking with the Tennessee Real Estate Commission to make sure the real estate agent is who they say they are.

    In Alabama, a con artist that is said to be known to police is accused of scamming a woman out of $24,000 while claiming to be a house flipper. House flipping is the act of buying a house that’s usually in a state of disrepair for cheap then fixing it up and selling it for a profit. The victim thought she was investing in just such a house. The scammer even asked the victim for additional funds for additional repairs. However, the scammer never actually purchased the property and no renovations were ever completed. If you’re entering into a real estate venture with someone, it’s recommended that you do your due diligence and research your partner before handing over any money.

    Lastly for today, we go to Brooklyn, New York where a man was recently arrested for allegedly scamming people who were applying for housing through a government program. The scammer would promise prospective applicants that they would be moved to the top of the waiting list if they paid him $15,000. He reportedly then told his victims that an apartment would open up for them in six months to a year. In the meantime, the scammer would repeatedly ask his victims for more money to try to find other apartments for them. The scammer had no affiliation with the government nor the housing facility. When it comes to government-backed programs, the red tape can be excruciatingly long but unfortunately, there are no shortcuts.

    While the desperate need for shelter can often override our better judgment, it’s always worth it to take a step back and research the situation before handing money over to anyone.

     
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