Fake Realtor scams Children and their Parents

Ever peruse Craigslist for a new home? Nothing against Craigslist for doing that, but that’s where Coty Houston and David Yost happened to find a very alluring four-bed home for sale; looked perfect for their five young kids.

12DThen they all got squashed by a bomb: The man who sold it to them was not a licensed Realtor. Matthew Boros, however, used to be a real estate agent, but he never renewed his license. But this time, he had climbed through the house’s window (after placing an ad for it on Craigslist) and pretended to be the owner, with the plan of bilking the couple out of $5,000.

The couple was fooled by Boros’s charm. They had no idea that this kindly man, who had met their children several times, had been busted in the past for renting the same house out. They gave him a down payment and an additional $4,000, that day—in the name of expediting the sales transaction.

Yost remodeled houses for a living, so he had no problem starting the remodeling on this particular house, which definitely needed some repair and cleanup. He even replaced its electrical wiring.

Not long after, while he was working on the house, a man arrived asking why he was there. The vacant house had a real Realtor, who told Yost he was going to contact the police to report him for breaking and entering.

Next day, Yost found the house’s locks to be changed, his equipment still inside.

Houston visited the Second District Headquarters, armed with the payment and contract records from Boros. She and Yost then demanded their money back from Boros. Boros, though, told them he could prove with additional paperwork that the transaction was legal.

They met, and Boros refused to give a refund, but the police were waiting nearby and arrested the slug.

The couple is out $5,000, but may get their money back pending the judge’s decision. Boros pleaded not guilty. His lawyer claims to not have had sufficient time to study the case.

The ending is not all that bitter for the parents of five, however. They bought the house for real this time, with a reduced down payment.

Robert Siciliano CEO of, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Craigslist Rental Scams in Your Town

Craigslist is one of my favorite sites on the Internet, though I admittedly have a love/hate relationship with it. One reason I love it is because of the deals and variety of items and services available, but I hate it because some of the people who use it are scammers and the site has some major security issues.

9DOnce, I listed a property on on Craigslist for rent. Scammers relisted the property for a third of the asking price. People came to my home and would knock on my door to see the property, even after the listing had expired.

Here’s how scammers work on Craigslist:

The scammer will copy and paste the ad and then pose as the homeowner who is overseas on business. To generate traffic, the scammer will list the ad for less than it is being asked. When a person responds to the ad, the scammer then tells them they can rent the property out, they simply need to forward the first month’s rent overseas. More people fall for this than you would believe.

How did I thwart this crime? I continuously scanned Craigslist for my ad to see if it was being posted. When I found any similar ads, I would email the information to, and the company would take the post down. However, the scammer also was on top of it, and kept posting the ad again.

So how can you protect yourself from these scams?

  • Use common sense, pay attention and be smart.
  • Be careful about who you are contacting and who contacts you.
  • Try to deal locally when possible and always meet in person in a safe location.
  • Do not engage in any online monetary transaction that requires you to send money to a stranger after they send money to you. This is a scam.
  • Do not disclose financial information, Social Security numbers or any account information.

Personal Security Tips:

Always Use Craigslist With Caution – People have been robbed, scammed, burglarized and even killed by using Craigslist. You must be careful about who you contact as you don’t know what everyone’s true motivation is.

Work With a Friend – If possible, meet the person with a friend or family member. There is strength in numbers.

Get ID Info Before Meeting – You also want to make sure that you get the person’s name and phone number before meeting them. Call them to verify the number, and tell them that your brother, who is a cop, will have his cruiser there when you meet, so they should not be alarmed.

Stay As Aware As Possible – There is always risk when meeting a stranger, but staying aware can help to keep you from getting into a bad situation.

Trust Your Instincts – Do not discount any negative feelings you may have about the meeting, and cancel it if necessary.

Wear the Right Things – Do not wear anything provocative or expensive, nor should you wear loose fitting clothing or scarves, as attackers can grab onto them easily. Wear good shoes that you can run in.

Stay in Communication – Make sure someone you know, such as a spouse or family member, knows where you are and when you will be back. Try to have them on the phone during the meeting.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Craigslist encounter ends very badly

At least one woman is happy that her driver drove like a drunk. That’s because his erratic driving caught the attention of troopers who pulled him over. They then heard a woman calling for help—from the backseat. She was bound and gagged with a bag over her head.

emailThe 41-year-old man had posted an ad on Craigslist; he wanted a submissive partner. His phony profile attracted the 22-year-old woman (who I must wonder, why would she be interested in a man who wants a submissive partner? Doesn’t this sound mighty suspicious?).

The victim chatted online and agreed to meet him. She thought nothing of meeting him in a secluded, remote location near his home.

Then she got into his car. Once inside, she noticed that he didn’t even look anything like the photo he had sent her.

Let’s stop here a moment. Just how dark was their initial meeting spot that she didn’t realize then that he looked nothing like the picture?

She told him to pull over. Instead he assaulted her and tied her up, tossing her in the backseat. She kicked at the man and backseat, causing him to swerve like a drunk.

None of this would have happened had she insisted on meeting in a public spot, and severing the connection with him if he kept insisting on the secluded, dark area.

How to Fight off an Attacker

  • Hit the gym and strengthen your body. Not only will a strong-looking body make a man think twice about attacking, but if he does, a strong body has a much better chance of fighting back and/or escaping.
  • We all know to go for the groin. Go after it like a savage. Hit, yank, pull.
  • Jab stiff fingers into his eye. Why this is rarely done I’ll never know, because it’s extremely effective.
  • Basic self-defense techniques, delivered to the neck, can stun a man and give you time to escape.
  • Slam a palm into his nose. Keep going after it. The pain and gush of blood will disorient him. A self-defense course will teach you how to elbow his nose if he’s behind you.
  • Smash a foot into his knee. You have a better chance of bringing him down if you come in from the side—because your foot will be striking against ligaments, rather than bone.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Craigslist Scams Are A Persistent Threat

Craigslist is a staple of my internet experience, even though I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love it because lots of people use it faithfully and the deals and the ability to recycle opposed to buy new or throw away. I hate it because people who use it are often unreliable and the persistent security issues.

There are no shortage of scammers and low life thugs who use Craigslist as a platform to dupe and hurt people. Just this week in Boston, Fox News reports “Mother and son used Craigslist to scam people into renting fake apartment”

“Police say a mother and son scammed people out of $4,000 by trying to rent out an apartment that was not theirs. Police believe they took out a Craigslist ad and took deposits for an apartment they were living in for a short time.  Medford police say they have received at least 4 reports from people saying they fell for the scam.  It was not until the first victim’s moving truck arrived that the scam was realized.”

In the same week Bob Sullivan from MSNBC reports “Craigslist ‘robberies by appointment’ turn violent”

“The sleepy suburban neighborhood in Bogota, N.J., looked safe when Michael pulled up to meet the man who had offered to buy his MacBook after seeing an ad on Craigslist. And everything seemed perfectly normal when the buyer walked up to his car and began counting out cash. But then a second man appeared seemingly out of nowhere and shoved a shotgun in Michael’s face.”

Craigslist should be used with caution. People have been robbed, burglarized, scammed and in some cases their homes were invaded and some people have been killed. With Craigslist, be very careful who you contact and who contacts you. You never know who the person is or what their motivation may be.

ID pre meeting. Get their name and cell phone number ahead of time. And call them back to verify. Tell them your brother the cop will be there so they shouldn’t be alarmed when they pull up and see a police cruiser.

Never meet in private. Meet at a public location that involves lots of other people. The more eyeballs the better.

Trust your gut, and don’t discount any troubling feelings you might have about your meeting. If anything seems wrong, then it IS wrong. Cancel if necessary.

Enlist a friend whenever possible. There is strength in numbers. Predators thrive on isolation. By paring up, you reduce the chances of being attacked.

Look street smart. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or provocative clothes. Scarves and loose fitting clothing give attackers something to grab. Wear shoes you can run and kick in

Unaware creates risk. Unfortunately there is risk in meeting someone you don’t know.  Being guarded can keep you from getting into a vulnerable situation.

Stay in communication. Make it known to your spouse or a friend where you are going and when you will be back. Have them on your cell phone while you are meeting.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing  scammers and thieves on The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch

Home Security: People Are Being Very Disappointing

I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer here, I just need to point out some things and hope people will shake up their fellow man and gather some perspective. As a person of planet earth, I can tell you straight out I often get disappointed in my fellow humans. For example, a bunch of smart people who know how to suck oil out of the ocean floor are in the process of polluting that same ocean. Very disappointing.

In Boston, a 10 foot diameter water pipe broke and another pipe had to be used to divert water.  So while the water was in the temporary pipe officials suggested people boil their water for a minute to kill any potential bacteria. In response, people flocked to all the supermarkets and cleaned out all the water off the shelves. Some people punched each other and wrestled over the last case of water. Someone paid $100.00 for a case of water. Then the National Guard brought in cases of water to distribute and people lined up in their cars for miles to get a free case of water and chastised officials when it ran out.  I boiled water. It was easy. What did people do before water came in a bottle? Very disappointing.

In Georgia, more people seem to be fabricating tales of assaults and robberies these days, and police have become more aggressive in proving the lies and bringing the pretenders to justice.  People invent crimes for lots of reasons, like to hide spending from spouses or to keep embarrassing secrets. People invent crimes for lots of reasons, like to hide spending from spouses or to keep embarrassing secrets. Very disappointing.

Police across Western Washington are searching for four suspects wanted in a fatal home invasion robbery in Pierce County that started with a Craigslist posting. The homeowner was shot and killed, and his wife and sons were assaulted. Beyond very disappointing.

I’ve stopped using for this reason.  There are too many whackos and to many risks.

No matter what you are selling or buying you must know who you are dealing with on Craigslist. When we were young, our parents told us not to talk to strangers. Strangers are not yet part of our trusted circle. So don’t trust them!

Whenever possible, deal locally and meet in a populated area or even in front of the police department! People who cannot meet you in your town are more likely to be scammers. And even when you do meet in person, you should be wary.

Never engage in online transactions involving credit cards, cashier’s checks, money orders, personal checks, Western Union, MoneyGram or cash that require you to send money to a stranger in response to money they have sent you. This is an advance fee scam.

Home security tips: If you have to meet someone at your home consider keeping the meeting outside. If you have to meet inside then have someone standing next to the home security alarm ready to press the panic button or have a remote control for your wireless security alarm that will also ring the panic button.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams.