Important Alert for Buyers or Renters
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had issued a consumer alert affecting real estate listings in a rental housing scam. The scam involves Criminals searching Web sites that list homes for sale. They take the information in those ads – lock, stock and barrel – and post it, with their own e-mail address, in an ad on Craigslist (without Craigslist’s consent or knowledge) under the housing rentals category. The houses are almost always listed with below market rental rates. The listings may also be posted on other rental sites.
Potential renters might then be asked to fill out credit applications asking for personal information like credit history, social security numbers, and work history. Criminals can use this information to commit identity fraud and steal money from their victims.
We have seen several cases of unauthorized listing display. We recommend the following approach.
Contact the website owners using every possible method (registered mail, email and telephone) to make it clear that you are the listing agent on the property appearing on their site, explain that the display of your listing information on the site is not authorized and demand that it be removed immediately.
After seven days, check the site to see if the listing has been removed. Follow up with the site owners again if it has not been removed. In other words, stay after them until it is removed.
Keep a log of the paper trail, e-mails and phone calls that reflect your attempt to proactively get this situation resolved.”
Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?
- Report these cases to the Attorney General’s Office. Call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-351-4889 or click the Consumer Complaint Form below to file electronically: Consumer Complaint Form (electronic)
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Section
P.O. Box 94005
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9005
- If you are defrauded by someone you met in person, contact your local police department.
- If you suspect that a craigslist post may be part of a scam, please send us the details
- Agents may wish to consider signing up for Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) for each of their listings in order to get an e-mail anytime that address is posted on a Web site.
You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules suggested by Craigslist whenever using Craigslist :
- Deal Locally With Folks You Can Meet In Person – follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.
- Never Wire Funds Via Western Union, Moneygram Or Any Other Wire Service – anyone who asks you to do so is likely a scammer.
- Fake Cashier Checks & Money Orders Are Common, And Banks Will Cash Them And Then Hold You Responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
- Craigslist Is Not Involved In Any Transaction – and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification”
- Never Give Out Financial – bank account or social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.
- Avoid Deals Involving Shipping or Escrow Services – and know that only a scammer will “Guarantee” your transaction.
- Do Not Rent Housing Without Seeing The Interior, Or Purchase Expensive Items Sight Unseen – in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.
- Do Not Submit to Credit Checks or Background Checks for a job or for housing until you have met the interviewer or Landlord/Agent in person.
When in doubt, consult your REALTOR®