Scammers targeting interested renters with fake online listings

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Selling a house can be stressful, and with ever-changing technology, it has never been easier to sell a home with pictures posted online.

But it also means the opportunity is ripe for a scammer.

Realtors say they keep noticing their listings popping up on the online classified website, Craigslist.com. They say these scammers are pulling information from public realty websites — using photos and details about the homes, including room sizes, neighboring schools and the location. That information often gets someone interested in the home to call.

“It is surprising, but at the same time, they see a good buy. Often times, the rent price listed is less than what they’re going for. They see beautiful pics of a home, and they want in. They are unfortunately sending the money in,” said Howard Hanna Sales Associate Christina Cook.

And that’s how the scammer sets the hook. The renter wants in and is willing to send money to the person who posted the fake advertisement. But nobody knows who they are or where they live.

Chad Cromer, president of Community First Real Estate, said there are ways to spot a scammer.

“If someone doesn’t have the key, they won’t show you the home, or they won’t call you or meet you in person, it’s most likely a scam,” he said.

It is a scam that is growing in popularity and can potentially put real sellers at risk if someone shows up at their door believing they are going to get a key and move in, only to find out they have been taken advantage of.

“There have been people who have called into my office saying, ‘Hey, we sent money. We don’t know what’s going on. Why can’t we get the keys?’ Obviously we advise them it was not from our office, and it was an Internet scam,” Cromer said.

The best piece of advice, whether you are a buyer or a seller, is to always verify the owner. You should also deal with professional agents in person and report anything that you feel is suspicious to your agent and the police.

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