I discovered an active real estate scam when I was contacted by a reader yesterday wanting to know if a property that we have listed for sale was also available for lease. She proceeded to inform me that she had called on the “Craigslist ad” that “we” ran and immediately thought about “real estate scams”, so she was contacting me directly.
After checking on the property she was calling about, it turns out it was only for sale. The ad that she found on Craigslist really was a real estate scam. In order to warn my readers, I thought this would make for an interesting post on the Tallahassee Real Estate Blog.
Real Estate Scam To Get Your Deposit Money
It turns out somebody copied an entire home listing of ours and then placed it on Craigslist as a “For Rent” property. Our name was used in the ad, but the phone number or contact link was changed to that of the real estate scam mastermind. If you inquired about the property, you would get a message back stating the property was still available, that they (the landlord) lived in Africa and that the $900 deposit needed to be sent to a stated address. If you asked questions, there was always a reply.
After doing some research, this is not really a new scam, it is just the first time (that I know of) that it has happened to us and our customers at CENTURY 21 Manausa & Associates.
Ways To Prevent Being Victim Of Real Estate Scam
There are some simple precautions that you can take in order to keep from getting involved in a real estate scam:
- DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON – follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on the internet.
- WORK WITH A TRUSTED REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL that has obvious links to the community
- NEVER SEND MONEY TO PEOPLE/ORGANIZATIONS THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW – anyone who asks you to do so could be a scammer.
- CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification.” Neither are most of the other advertising web sites. When leasing or buying real estate, it is best you know with whom you are working.
- NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
Real Estate Scam Resources
If you feel that you have been a victim of an attempted fraud, here are some ways that you can report what has happened:
- New! FTC Video: How to report scams to the FTC
- FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
- FTC online complaint form
The internet is a wonderful resource for finding information, just know that not everybody out there is acting in good faith. As long as you are cautious, you should be safe from any new real estate scam that comes your way.
Other Real Estate Scam Resources
Do you want to know more about the Tallahassee real estate market? It is not as hard as you might think keeping up with the movements in the housing market, you just have to know where to look. The following are some of the best resources that you can find on Tallahassee real estate:
- Daily Real Estate Blog (A Technorati Top 100): Tallahassee Real Estate Blog
- Current Housing Reports: Housing Market Reports
- Map Based Property Search Tool: MLS Property Search
- Foreclosure Reports: Lis Pendens and Foreclosures
- List of Distressed Properties in the MLS: Distressed Properties
- REALTOR® news and updates: Successful REALTORS®