Police Say Scammers Are Stealing Deposits from Homeowners
The police in Port St. Lucie Florida have claimed that scammers are now posting homes as available for rent or purchase. You rent/purchase the home by putting a deposit down on the house, but you’re never given any keys.
The scammers are getting their victims to the property and even a tour of the house, but when it comes time to move in, the victim is left without any options. The tour aspect of the scam is important here. This legitimizes the fake agent as real.
Local realtors say that there are a few things you can look for to ensure that your money gets to the right person and you have a place to live.
If the price doesn’t feel right or the deal is too good to be true, you should be very wary. Of course, the seller or renter might also ask way too many questions or require too much information upfront, which is also indicative of a scam.
Scammers tend to post ads on Craigslist and actually use houses that are for sale. Then, they ask the victim to tour the house and the scammer provides the lockbox pin code to get inside. The question is, how do the scammers get that information?
The only way to get access to the system is if you are a real estate agent. If they aren’t stealing the agent’s information, there are seemingly endless hoops to jump through before gaining access to that piece of information.The victims are told by the Fake Agent the keycode for the lockbox which allows them entry;
- The keycode is either told to the scammer by the real real estate agent via phone or email
- The real estate agents email is hacked and the code lies in the hacked email somewhere.
- The scammer poses as another real estate agent and scams the code via phone or email
Once the victim sees the place and has some trust in the scammer, the scammer can ask for a security deposit or down payment on the home. Police officers claim that scammers take your money but don’t give you the keys.
How can you make sure the listing is legitimate? If they ask you to call a number that isn’t local or send you to a website that looks off or isn’t recognizable, it’s best to double-check the information. You can call the real estate company, search the address of the property and seek other listings. Along with such, realtors do not give pin or lock-box codes to anyone for safety purposes.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.
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