I have been reminded lately, that we live in a world full of crooks and thieves. I think we tend to forget that sometimes living in a place like Iowa, but there are plenty of people around whose lone goal is to separate you from your money.
The latest scam I have seen personally involves Craigslist and people who are trying to sell their homes.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from a client in Clive. There was a man walking around outside her home looking at it. He then looked at a piece of paper and finally walked to my for sale sign and called me after seeing my number. This is what he said.
"Hello, I am standing in front of 123 Main and I am wondering if it is for rent. It says it is for rent on Craigslist."
I told him it was not for rent, that it was for sale though. He thanked me and went on his way.
After a little research, I found out that someone in the world had basically copied my listing info on the house, pictures included, and had run their own rental add for the same house.
The scam works like this. They try to bait people through great photos, or low rental prices. The goal is simply to get you to wire them money in the form of a deposit. People do fall for this because they smell a good deal and want to capitalize on it. After the people wire the money, they go to the house to move in and find it occupied by the owners and learn they have been scammed.
The particular scammers in this instance were smart in that they even got an email address to respond to which included the last name of the owner. This made it seem more legit.
It happened again this week on another listing. I got two calls yesterday on a house I have listed in Des Moines. I later found a Craigslist ad for the home offering it for rent for $600 a month. Luckily, people are starting to catch on, and both people who called asked me if it was real or a scam.
Here is what you can do about it:
1. If you are selling, regularly check Craigslist and search by your address. If you see an unauthorized ad, contact Craigslist and tell them to take it down.
2. Regularly Google your ow address just to see what is popping up. You might find other things related to your home that you should not be seeing.
3. Spread the word. NEVER wire money to somebody you do not know. If it seems sketchy or too good to be true, it most likely is.
I am hearing about these things to more and more people. The Internet is a wonderful tool to help sell homes, but it opens up the door to criminal activity as well. Keep an eye out for things that are out of the ordinary when you are selling your home or in the market to buy a new one.
RE/MAX Real Estate Center