Scam Alert – 7/29/13

Unfortunately as a REALTOR®, scams pop up from time to time that could affect your business. The best way to protect yourself from falling victim to a scammer is by staying informed, acting cautiously and not taking chances when it comes to your safety or the integrity of the property.

The most recent scam SABOR was made aware of was reported last week when a broker notified SABOR that two rental properties in area 1700, in and around Copperfield, were burglarized. No forced entry was detected but it seemed obvious the combo box was used. Be aware that this culprit may again attempt to break into combo boxes in order to let themselves into properties, possibly causing damage.

Another popular scam to remain wary of has involved the popular website Craig’s List. In this scam, the criminal takes property listings advertised in places like the newspaper, and relists them on Craig’s List. The criminal will create an email for themselves that looks like the owner’s name to make prospective buyers think they are contacting the correct person. The prospective buyer begins an email dialogue with the criminal, they exchange information and the buyer sends the criminal a deposit which is then cashed. In some cases, the charade goes so far as to include execution of a fraudulent lease. When the buyer attempts to move in, it is discovered they have been duped and the criminal is long gone.

To learn if your listings have been hijacked, make it a habit to regularly do a Google search for your listing addresses. You can even set up a Google alert to automatically look for your name or listings and send you alerts. If your listings come up on Craig’s List or elsewhere, contact the sites immediately to have them removed. You should also contact the police.

Many agencies including the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission have tried to rid the online marketplace of crooks, but scams including those involving phony sales and rental listings still remain.

To learn more about the Craig’s List scam, watch this video from SABOR’s Vice President of Risk Management and General Counsel, Gilbert Gonzalez.

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