Warning about internet fraud in real estate

Unfortunately, one of our listings has just been used as “bait” for an internet fraud scam.  I have filed all possible abuse reports and the fraudulent posting has been removed.  But, here’s how the scam works…

  • A warm and friendly ad posts on Craigslist or other websites.  The house is listed for lease, usually at an attractive, below-market price.
  • The property is actually a legitimate listing – but for sale, not for lease.
  • A “Rental Application” asks for personal and financial information.
  • You are asked send a deposit, after which the keys will be mailed to you, because the owner “has been transferred overseas”.

Unfortunately, the overseas destination for your check and/or financial information is a fraudster.  ‘Nuf said.

According to the 2009 survey by the National Association of Realtors, ninety percent of home buyers start by shopping on the internet.  Internet fraud schemes target these people, exploiting them during a very vulnerable time in their lives.  The open nature of the internet is, unfortunately, both a blessing and a well-known curse.

Just remember -- not all real estate sites are equally safe.  Trustworthy sites include legitimate real estate firms (like mine!), HAR.com, and Realtor.com.  These organizations are governed by state laws and held to a stringent code of ethics.  You can safely rely on lease and sale information from these sites.

Please surf prudently when shopping for real estate!

Roger Martin