There’s a cautionary tale for anyone looking to sell, buy, or rent property. Scammers are finding ways to con potential renters and sellers out of money. They're using real properties but posting fake listings for them on websites like Craigslist. Our Iris St. Meran spoke with a realtor and the police for red flags you should watch out for.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Bill Carroll does what most realtors do when they have properties for sale. He posts a listing of it online with many pictures to go along with it.
"One of the top ways to market a property is electronically and via the Internet,” said Carroll, who is a licensed real estate agent for ReMax Masters.
The Internet provides a broad audience and even some interest from scammers. This three-bedroom home is listed on his website for just under $100,000. But Carroll recently received a number of calls about renting it for $700 a month, even though it was never for rent.
Carroll said, "Someone else had posted my properties and my listing using my pictures and actually went as far as getting the owner's name and setting up an email account with an email very similar to what her name was."
Carroll says this happened before at another of his properties in DeWitt.
Police there say they've had legitimate complaints of scams like this in the past. But there are red flags to look out for.
DeWitt Police Lieutenant John Anton said, "Anytime it says wire money or put a deposit down electronically or a credit card number or something like that. Never ever give out that personal information."
If your preference is to search online, your best bet is to actually go to the property and see it in person and have some type of face to face conversation with the seller.
Anton says you could also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the seller is legitimate. He also says you could always ask for more photos. If you find a posting is fraudulent you can flag it on Craigslist, or find a reputable realtor to work with.
Carroll says pictures are necessary to sell property, so realtors are looking into ways their pictures won't be easily stolen off the web. The biggest lesson that can be taken from this is simple, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Authorities say if you think you might be a victim of scam like this one, you can file an internet crime complaint with the FBI Crime Complaint Center.
Visit www.ic3.gov to file a complaint.