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

    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, , , , rental scam, ,   

    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 10:07 am on November 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Camp Fire, , natural disasters, rental scam, ,   

    Excerpts of Facebook documents released and a scam warning for the victims of the Camp Fire 

    Excerpts of Facebook documents released and a scam warning for the victims of the Camp Fire

    The Wall Street Journal has obtained some excerpts of the internal Facebook documents seized by British Parliament. According to the WSJ, by way of The Verge, Facebook once considered selling user data to third parties. You know, instead of giving it away like they unintentionally do with all these data breaches. Emails show that there was chatter among Facebook employees about selling user data for a premium price after Facebook’s lackluster IPO failed to garner the company the assets they were hoping for. The question is how high up did this discussion go? We should no more once the complete documents are published.

    However, the main topic of today’s blog post is the devastating Camp Fire that has caused so much destruction and devastation in California. As we’ve mentioned before when discussing natural disasters, while events like these can bring out the best in humanity by those volunteering to help the victims of the fire it also brings out the worst in humanity when scammers and con artists descend on the area looking to take advantage of the victims. Local news media in Sacramento is reporting that housing scams are proliferating through the area targeting the victims of the fire.

    The scam itself is nothing new. The scammer will post a phony ad for a rental property on craigslist or Zillow at a too good to be true price. The scammer will come up with some excuse as to why they can’t show the property and will request that you wire them a deposit. Unfortunately, the scammers are normally from overseas so prosecuting them after the fact is almost impossible as is the recovery of any money sent to the scammer. As the article from Sacramento points out, always use a check or credit card to pay for any deposits as these transactions are easier to recover if you’ve been scammed. Please don’t let your anxiety over finding shelter cloud your judgment. Always do the research before giving anyone any money for rent or deposits.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on November 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , rental scam   

    Don’t fall for the craigslist copycat rental scam 

    Don't fall for the copycat rental scam

    On other classifieds sites, there are rental property scams abound. One of the most common scams is that the con artist will copy an ad from a legitimate real estate site, then will repost the ad on a site like craigslist claiming that they are in control of renting the property. Since a lot of people’s first go to site for rental properties may be craigslist scammers will use that site in droves to try to take your money. But what if you see an ad on a real estate site then see an ad on craigslist for the same property at a different price?

    While this is a rare occurrence, a woman from New York was looking to find a rental property in Florida. She first found a property on a legitimate vacation rental site but then found the exact same property for rent on craigslist for a cheaper price. Wanting the better deal, the woman sent money to the person who allegedly placed the craigslist ad. The woman sent $3500 for a rental deposit, the check was cashed and the woman never heard back from the craigslist renter. The alleged con artist also tried this scam on a Canadian family and law enforcement was involved leading to the suspect’s arrest.

    If you see two ads for the same property and the one on craigslist is at a lower price, it’s almost guaranteed that the craigslist ad is a scam. On craigslist the ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ adage applies more than on any other classifieds site since craigslist doesn’t moderate their ads or submit them to any kind of review process. They only care about the quantity of ads and not the quality.

     
  • Geebo 11:02 am on October 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , kansas city, rental scam,   

    Real Estate agent saves renters from scam 

    Real Estate agent saves renters from scam

    Online con artists are always changing and adapting. That’s part of why the term ‘con man’ is actually short for ‘confidence man’. When the general public starts catching on to one scheme, con artists will tweak the scam ever so slightly that it almost becomes a brand new scam. For example, in the past scammers would list a property for rent in craigslist that isn’t there’s and would use various excuses as to why you had to wire them the deposit money before even seeing the property. Some of the more popular ones were that the ‘landlords’ were leaving the country either because they were church missionaries or they were in the military having just been deployed.

    It’s rare when I hear about a new rental scam but today seems to be that day. In the Kansas City area, a Real Estate agent saved a family from losing out on their money after one of the realtor’s property was listed on craigslist. The renters were about to send money to someone in Texas who was claiming to be the landlord of the property. The phony landlord claimed they were having problems with the realtor and decided to rent the house out themselves. Luckily, the renters called the realtor before sending any money. The realtor informed the renters that the scammers had copied the realtor’s ad and reposted it on craigslist, which is usually the heart of the scam.

    Rental scams are one of the most prolific scams on classified sites that don’t monitor their ads. Usually, the scammers try to rope you in with a too good to be true price and some kind of story designed to lower your defenses. If you’re ever unsure about who is truly renting a property you can always check with the county assessor’s website or office. Taking that little extra step could mean the difference between finding a new home or losing that down payment you needed for a new place.

     
  • Geebo 9:05 am on August 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Miami, rental scam, Roomster   

    Craigslist isn’t the only place for rental scams 

    Craigslist isn't the only place for rental scams

    We’ve documented the rental scams that have proliferated on craigslist a number of times. In case you’re unfamiliar with the scam, someone posing as a landlord will post a phony ad for a rental property on craigslist. Then they’ll either try to get you to wire them money as a deposit, and even in some cases will collect the money in person. However, in each case, the phony landlord doesn’t own the property. In many instances, families have been left broke and homeless. Now, there’s a new place online where this scam has propagated.

    Roomster is a website/app that allows you to look for rooms to rent. Recently, a woman who left Puerto Rico after the devastating Hurricane Maria was looking for a place to live in the Miami area. She found a place on Roomster and was told by the supposed landlord to wire the deposit and the first and last month’s rent. That was all the money the victim had. Also, it seems that this isn’t the only scam taking place on Roomster.

    Roomster itself has been accused of not only deceptive billing practices but also hijacking other sites in order to push users into their paid subscription service. A casual Google search found a number of complaints regarding not only the alleged hidden subscription fees but fraudulent listings as well. The last thing the online classifieds industry needs is yet another site or app that puts profits ahead of protecting its users.

     
  • Geebo 9:11 am on June 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , rental scam, , 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: , , , rental scam,   

    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: , , rental scam,   

    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 9:01 am on March 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , rental scam   

    Airbnb being used in craigslist scam 

    Airbnb being used in craigslist scam

    Short-term rental platform Airbnb has had its own problems lately when it comes to local zoning laws and ever-increasing pressure from the hospitality industry. Now, they find themselves as unwilling participants in a rental scam that unsurprisingly takes place on craigslist, and like most craigslist scams, it’s a new twist on an old scam.

    A report out of Minneapolis is stating that a property listed on Airbnb for temporary stays is being listed on craigslist as a more permanent rental. The craigslist scammers copied the Airbnb ad almost word for word and stole all the pictures used in the original ad. The scammers then tried to get a victim to wire them $2,100 to an out-of-state bank. This isn’t the only type of Airbnb scam perpetrated through craigslist as this video shows.

    As stated before, this is a twist on an old scam where craigslist scammers would copy entire ads from the websites of realtors of homes for sale, then list the properties on craigslist as rentals in order to try to scam people out of phony deposit or background check fees depending on how ambitious the scammers are.

    As with any online transaction, never wire money anywhere. It’s too easy for the scammers to remain anonymous and make off with your money. In too many instances the money lost is all the money the victims had in trying to find a home for their families who are then left penniless and without a roof over their heads.

     
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