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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , rental scam, , ,   

    A lockbox doesn’t mean it’s not a scam 

    A lockbox doesn't mean it's not a scam

    By Greg Collier

    Many real estate services and platforms use what’s known as a lockbox on their rental properties. It is essentially an electronic box that allows access to the property. A prospective renter can then enter a code that gives them access to the keys so they can tour the property. A lockbox like this on a property can give the impression that whoever has access to the lockbox code must be a legitimate landlord. As we’re about to show you, that isn’t always true.

    A man from Louisville, Kentucky recently inquired about a home for rent that he found on Craigslist. That’s already not a good sign already as Craigslist has long been ground zero for internet scammers of many forms. Anyway, the supposed landlord told the Louisville man that the man can take a self-guided tour of the home using the Rently platform and provided a man with the code number for the lockbox.

    The man toured the home and told the Craigslist landlord he wanted to rent the home. The landlord said there would be a $2500 deposit and sent a lease to the man. The phony landlord almost got away with it too except he kept pressuring the man to pay the $2500. It was at this point that the man realized this might be a scam. The man then checked the property records of the home and discovered that the home wasn’t being rented by someone with the landlord’s name. Instead, it was being rented by a property management company.

    We’re not sure how the lockbox codes are falling into the hands of scammers unless the codes are not being changed regularly. If that’s the case, we can imagine a number of scenarios where the code number could be obtained.

    If you’re ever looking to rent a home that you’ve found online, we always recommend going to the county’s tax assessor office or website to verify who exactly owns the property. While it may take a little extra time and effort to find this information, it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , rental scam, ,   

    Dream home becomes nightmare for one family 

    Dream home becomes nightmare for one family

    Recently, we mentioned how rent prices in the San Francisco Bay Area were dropping due to the pandemic and how rental scammers were using this to their advantage. The opposite can be said as well in markets where rent prices are climbing. A family in Tennessee unfortunately found this out the hard way.

    It started out like many rental scams do. They found a great listing for a property on Craigslist for an amount they could afford. The red flags that this listing was a fake appeared almost immediately. However, the family ignored them in their eagerness to find what they called a ‘forever home’.

    First, the person supposedly renting the home would only communicate with the family through text messaging. This makes it harder for victims to identify their scammers.

    Next, the scammers came up with a story about why the rent was so affordable. They told the family that they had just moved out of town and didn’t want the home to be empty in the winter.

    The family was then told they couldn’t tour the home or meet with the renters because of COVID-19. As you can imagine, social distancing has been a boon for scammers because they now have a reasonable explanation to avoid meeting their victims.

    There was even a for sale sign outside the property, but the scammers are said to have explained that away too.

    The last red flag came in the form of Cash App. The family paid the scammers $2400 through the mobile payment app. The family was then asked for an additional $1200, or they would lose the listing.

    The family contacted who they thought they were dealing with on Facebook who were actually previous victims of these particular scammers.

    It’s almost like this scammer wrote the book on rental scams as they had an answer for just about every red flag. Still, these red flags should not be ignored even if the deal seems to be sent from above.

    If a supposed landlord says they can’t meet you or show the home, walk away from the deal. That’s been a rental scammer staple even before the pandemic happened. Back then, they would give stories like they were doing missionary work overseas or were deployed in the military.

    With any big life choice like moving into a new home we always recommend doing as much research on the property as possible before making any financial commitment. Do a reverse image search to make sure the pictures on the listing aren’t stolen from a realtor; and always check with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner or realtor is.

    Don’t let scammers pressure you into giving them your money with threats of losing the listing. Having all the information at hand will protect you against their tactics.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , rental scam, ,   

    COVID-related rental scams continue 

    COVID-related rental scams continue

    The ongoing pandemic has had at least one positive effect. Rental fees in the San Francisco Bay Area have gone down. Since the Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live in the country, this is a needed relief for those looking for housing there. However, the new lower rents make this a veritable field day for rental scammers.

    Rental scammers normally use lower than market value rents in the fraudulent listings. With the current market in the Bay Area already at new lows, it makes it harder to spot a scammer. Also thanks to the pandemic, rental scammers have been using social distancing as an excuse not to meet with their victims.

    A San Francisco couple found a listing for an apartment on Craigslist that was bigger than the one they had, but the new apartment had a cheaper rent. They contacted the supposed rental agent from the contact listing. He told the couple to download an app that would allow them access to tour the apartment by themselves. While they toured the apartment the rental agent was talking to them through FaceTime the entire time.

    The couple agreed to move in and the agent requested first months rent and a deposit which amounted to $6000. Later, the agent asked them how much rent they could pay in advance. Begrudgingly, the couple agreed to pay another $6000 up front. Then the agent requested another $1500 which the couple agreed to $750.

    As you’ve probably guessed by now, the couple went to move in on January 1st only to find that the apartment had been rented to someone else. The Craigslist listing was a fake. That left the couple out close to $13,000. Even for a successful Bay Area couple, that isn’t exactly small potatoes.

    No matter how legitimate someone may seem, there’s always the potential that you’re being scammed when trying to rent a property. As always, we recommend doing as much research as possible before entering to any agreement on a property. Do a reverse image search to make sure the pictures on the listing aren’t stolen from a realtor. Plus, you should always check with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner or realtor is. While research may be time-consuming, it could save you thousands of dollars in the end.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , rental scam,   

    Rental scam could leave family homeless for the holidays 

    Rental scam could leave family homeless for the holidays

    A family in North Carolina is facing possible homelessness after falling prey to a rental scam. The family was already down on their luck when they came in contact with a scammer. They have a struggling business that’s been hit hard by the pandemic. They also have two young children who test positive for COVID. On top of that, they had to quickly find a new home due to safety concerns.

    Unfortunately, they went to one of the worst places you can go to find a new home, Craigslist. They found a listing with reasonable rent. When they contacted the supposed realtor from the listing, they were told when the property would be open for viewing. They wanted to move in so they paid an $800 deposit through PayPal. However, when they went to meet the realtor to get the keys at the new home, the realtor never showed. As with most rental scams, the Craigslist listing had been copied from a legitimate realtor’s website. Now the family could be out $800 and they’re scrambling to find a place to stay.

    Sadly, they are the type of victims that rental scammers love to fleece. Scammers are always hoping to find victims who are in a desperate situation who may not be thinking clearly. If the victims are under some kind of impending deadline, that’s even better for the scammer.

    While we hope this family lands on their feet, their story can be used as a warning for anyone looking to rent a home on short notice. Even if you’re under a time crunch, research the property before making any kind of deposit. We always recommend checking with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who is actually renting the property. Also making any payment through a payment app like PayPal, Venmo, or Cash App should be a red flag that you might be getting scammed. It’s easy for scammers to block victims once the payment is made leaving the victims with little to no recourse.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Lousiana, , rental scam,   

    Scammer collected deposit in person for home they didn’t own 

    Scammer collected deposit in person for home they didn't own

    Normally in home rental scams, the scammer will give any excuse as to why they can’t meet you in person. So what can you do when the scammer agrees to meet you at your home? Well, to collect your money anyway. That’s exactly what happened to a mother of six from Lousiana when she found a home reasonably priced home for rent online.

    The woman found the listing on Facebook Marketplace which led her to a listing on Craigslist. She contacted the number on the ad and the man on the other end said that he would be happy to rent her the home. The victim that was sent an application that we’re sure asked for a lot of personal information that could potentially be used for identity theft later.

    The scammer is said to have shown up at the woman’s current residence to have her sign a legitimate-looking lease. She was then instructed by the scammer to buy two pre-paid debit cards. One for the rent and one for the deposit. Each card carried $750 in funds. Later on, the scammer asked her to take pictures of both the front and back of each card.

    She had all her belongings packed up and ready to move when the scammer told her that he couldn’t meet her to give her the keys because of a ‘family emergency’. That was the last time she heard from the man who claimed to be renting her a new place to live.

    As it turns out, like most rental scams the Craigslist listing had been copied from a legitimate realtor’s website. The scammer is believed to have copied the listings of multiple other properties. All the other properties were actually listed for sale instead of being for rent.

    If you’re looking for a new place to live, you should take the time to do your research into the property. We always recommend checking with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner is. Along with that we also recommend doing a reverse image search to make sure the photo’s from the property ad aren’t being copied from a legitimate realtor or landlord. You should also be wary of any landlord who can’t tell you anything about the property but is anxious to collect a deposit. Also, be wary if the landlord tries to collect payment through apps like Venmo, Cash App, or other non-traditional means that could be untraceable.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , rental scam,   

    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 8:00 am on September 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Almeda Fire, , rental scam,   

    Rental scammers take advantage of fire victims 

    Rental scammers take advantage of fire victims

    The recent Almeda Fire in Southern Oregon is said to have destroyed over 2,300 homes. It’s being called one of the most destructive American fires in the past 50 years. This has left many of the fire’s victims scrambling to find temporary or permanent housing. Of course, where there are people who have a desperate need there will be those looking to take advantage of them.

    According to local real estate brokers, rental scams have been flooding the area. They say that they’ve always been a problem but with the recent fire, the scam has been increasing immensely in the area. This is also one of the oldest online scams. Scammers will take a legitimate listing from a realtor’s website, copy it, then place an ad on Craigslist claiming they’re renting the property. The scammers will advertise the property at below market value before trying to squeeze a phony deposit or rent payment out of their victims. With so many people looking for shelter, the local Craigslist listings are said to be flooded with scammers and unfortunately, desperate people looking for a roof over their heads have fallen victim to the scam.

    We know that it’s easier said than done when facing a crisis like this, however, even in drastic situations like this, you should take the time to do your research. We always recommend checking with the county’s tax assessor’s office or website to find out who the true property owner is. Along with that we also recommend doing a reverse image search to make sure the property ad isn’t being copied from a legitimate realtor or landlord. You should also be wary of any landlord who can’t tell you anything about the property but is anxious to collect a deposit. Also, be wary if the landlord tries to collect payment through apps like Venmo or Cash App. If a landlord says they can’t show you the property even for COVID-19 reasons it’s probably a scam.

    No one who has endured a disaster like this should have to endure the petty greed of scammers.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: rental scam, , Steamboat Springs,   

    Scammers tell renters to break the window if no one’s home 

    Scammers tell renters to break the window if no one's home

    Steamboat Springs in Colorado is a popular ski resort town. Any popular tourist hotspot will have its fair share of rental scammers and Steamboat Springs is no exception. An attorney was looking for a long term rental in Steamboat Springs and says that she encountered at least four scammers were trying to rent her a property that they didn’t actually own. One scammer is even said to have told the attorney that she could go look at the home herself and if the door was locked she could just break a window. That may just be the biggest red flag for a rental scam we’ve ever heard of.

    After that encounter, the attorney started doing research on the property she was hoping to rent and found out that the home was actually for sale and not for rent. Scammers had copied the ad from the legitimate realtor’s website and pasted the ad on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Zillow. If the attorney had not done her due diligence she may have found herself out of thousands of dollars paid to phony landlords for phony deposits.

    The attorney also gave some good advice on how to help sniff out a rental scammer. She recommends asking questions that only locals may know like what school did they send their kids too or things like that. Often these rental scammers will be based overseas and know very little about the local area.

    Please remember that if a prospective landlord tells you that you can’t see the property or need to break the window to see it, you’re probably talking to a scammer. We always recommend doing a reverse image search to see how many ads the pictures of the home appear in. If most of the ads say that the home is for rent but one says it’s for sale then the rental ads are more than likely scams. Lastly, you can always check with the county assessor’s office or website to see who the actual owner of the property is before handing over any money.

    While this kind of research can be time-consuming it’s worth it to put in the effort in order to avoid being scammed.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on August 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , rental scam,   

    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 August 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , rental scam, ,   

    $600 Federal unemployment benefit has expired 

    $600 Federal unemployment benefit has expired

    If you’re currently collecting unemployment benefits, you might discover that your next payment could be smaller than it has been. As of this past Friday, July 31, 2020, the Federal unemployment benefit of $600 per week has expired. The Senate had been working on extending these benefits but decided to allow the benefits to expire before approving any extension. This will leave approximately 30 million Americans who are currently collecting unemployment benefits to struggle even more to try to make ends meet. As of the time of this posting, there is no definitive time table as to when the benefits could be extended.

    Unfortunately, we can’t offer any advice on to make up for that $600 loss outside of maybe putting some of your clutter up for sale on Geebo.com. You never know who may want to pay you for that thing you’ve been looking to get out of your home. Ad listings are free. However, we can offer advice on how to keep the money you already have.

    This is going to be a perfect time for scammers to strike. With so many people desperate to find work or a place to live, it’s almost a guarantee that scammers will be looking for new victims.

    When it comes to job scams, be leery of any offer that sounds too good to be true. Avoid depositing any checks that phony employers will say is for supplies or equipment. Avoid any positions for secret shoppers or repackaging positions that are disguised with titles like ‘shipping coordinator’ or ‘warehouse redistribution coordinator’.

    Where housing is concerned, once again, it’s best to avoid any listing that sounds too good to be true. If the rent is significantly lower than the average market price, it’s probably best to avoid that listing. If a landlord refuses to show you the property for any reason including social distancing, it’s more than likely a scam. If the supposed landlord asks for payment in something unusual like gift cards, wire service, or cryptocurrency that will probably be a scam listing.

    I’m sure all of us are either affected by the current economic situation or know someone who is. If you’re in a position to, maybe reach out and offer to help someone you know. It doesn’t have to be financial assistance necessarily. Sometimes just the offer of a helping hand can be enough.

     
    • We need to stop playing politics 2:10 pm on August 3, 2020 Permalink

      I am out of work due to corona I work for the school district don’t know if I am going back next month or if I will be on the unemployment line my wages will stop and I will probably have to go on unemployment my wages are low so if I do go on unemployment I will be making less than I brought home from my job which was 30 hours a week my bring home pay for two weeks is $495 no one gave me any help and if I go on employment sure if I’m gonna get up then either just saying $600 extra week is more than I bring home Although people making much more than that for six months got $600 extra a week what about the people that are just now applying for unemployment shouldn’t they be entitled to an extra $600 for the first six months of unemployment we’re talking about being fair to all Americans I would love to have an answerWe need to stop playing politics and start taking care of the people that are putting you in your not making matters any easier for people that in homes I may lose their jobs after the $600 a month is over how fair is that

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