It’s a sad truth of today’s world that we all must be constantly vigilant against scams, from state-sponsored hackers to opportunistic cybercriminals. To that end, I wanted to share a story from a fellow redeveloper’s Facebook page.
DJ finished a renovation and had just begun marketing it. She placed a For Sale sign with her phone number in the front yard. That’s just good marketing. It’s also what saved at least one family from falling victim to a scam.
The scammers took the information from DJ’s Zillow listing, including the pictures. They then ran a Craigslist ad with the address and pictures saying the property was for rent. All anyone had to do was send $1600 to an out-of-state PO box, and the keys would be overnighted. No hassle, no fuss.
Except that the PO box didn’t belong to DJ or anyone she knew. Anyone sending that money would be out $1600, money they probably needed very much.
One potential victim was a Marine relocating to the area. Thankfully, the Marine drove by the house and took down DJ’s number from the sign. Triggering to the conflict between the rental ad on Craigslist and the For Sale sign in the yard, the Marine called DJ to get the real scoop.
Several other redevelopers noted that similar scams had been perpetrated using their properties. One said one of their kids almost fell for a similar scam when looking to move out of a dorm.
It saddens me to think that humans can be such predators on their own kind. Why can’t we take better care of one another?
To anyone thinking of renting a property, be aware. No legitimate landlord asks for the money up front and overnights the keys without some form of due diligence on the prospective tenants. There are rental applications and background checks, but these hurdles also protect renters. I strongly suggest you never give up your money without first meeting with the landlord or the landlord’s licensed agent.