While the Internet is a great tool for real estate professionals to display their listings, it also provides an opportunity for scammers to use listing information to swindle the public. These types of cons have been around for ages.
Rentals are commonly used in the scams. One type of common scam appearing on sites such as Craigslist or For Rent By Owner is for the scammer to pose as the agent or owner. When a potential renter inquires about the property, the scammer typically asks for money upfront in exchange for keys or a promise to meet the renter at the property. After the renter sends money to the scammer, he/she never gets the keys nor does anyone show up at the property. The renter is out of luck.
While this is not a new phenomenon it is important to know this kind of activity exists and what you can do if your listing is being used as part of scam. MRIS does not have any jurisdiction over sites like these, but we encourage you to be aware of these types of scams in case you get a call you about a “poached” listing. Be sure to get the name of the site where the person found your listing, and contact that site directly to resolve the issue. You should also report it to the local authorities.
Last June, we posted an article originally written by Avery-Hess titled “Have You Been Craigs Re-listed?” It may be time to re-read it. Click here to do so.
From the original Avery-Hess article:
If you’re a listing agent, even if you do not use Craigslist, your listings might get poached and used in a scam. Be proactive; in this new world of online postings and listing syndication, be sure to check for your listings on sites like Craigslist and keep your clients informed. No one wants an upset client asking why their home appears online with minimal and/or wrong information, marginal photo usage and incorrect points of contact. If you are scammed, be sure to report it to your local authorities, so together we can work towards preventing this type of scam from happening to other REALTORS.