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  • 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.

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

    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: , , rental scam, 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.

     
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