Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Real Estate Ads ‘Hijacked’ Online in Scams
Scammers are increasingly taking actual online listing ads of homes for sale from real estate agents’ sites and reposting them on sites such as CraigsList as rentals, duping a growing number of renters.
Tug Pierson, a RE/MAX real estate professional in Indiana, says he learned of one of his for-sale listings being used in a rental scam, reposted online several times throughout the Internet. Another real estate agent, whose listing was also reposted as a rental, says he learned of it when an unsuspecting renter contacted him to say he was at the house with a truck of furniture ready to move in.
Usually scammers repost the for-sale listing as a rental and ask would-be renters to wire a deposit and advance rent to secure the rental. The scammers usually claim they can’t be met in person because they are out of the country working as missionaries. They also sometimes tell the would-be renters that the real estate agent who was handling the property was fired so they should disregard any signs posted in front of the house with the agent’s information.
Real estate agents who have learned of their postings being used in rental scams say they have contacted the police once they learned of the fraudulent repostings. But scammers can be tough to trace. The agents say it’s important for real estate professionals to educate the public about such online scams and teach them how not to rent a property so renters can guard against such scams online.
Source: “Rental Scams Continue to Grow Online,” The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Ind.) (March 27, 2012)