Craigslist.com, a popular place to advertise everything from jobs and homes to puppies and perspective mates has issued a warning of a new scam. If you're planning on selling your home, be mindful of the following -- once a home has been advertised or placed into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), your property could become "bait" for scammers luring unwitting victims into handing over hundreds or thousands of dollars.
In a number of recent cases, scammers have taken information from real estate ads including photos of the houses for sale and posted classified ads on Craigslist.com. In theses ad THEY (the scammers) are actually renting these houses.
The scammers act as landlords living out of the country. They ask for small sums of money from their victims (potential renters) to retrieve the house keys and take a walk-thru of the property.
In other cases, scammers actually gained access to vacant houses, gave tours to the prospective renters, and accepted deposits for renting the properties.
Craigslist.com the world's largest online classified ad service, offers the following advice to people visiting them:
• "Deal locally with folks you can meet in person.
• "Never wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service -- anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
• "Fake cashier checks and money orders are common, and banks will cash them and then hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
• "Craigslist is not involved in any trisection, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer 'buyer protection' or 'seller certification.'"
You can find more information on avoiding scams on Craigslist on their site.
Craigslist is obviously not the only place this scam can occur. Be wary of any listing anywhere that has these telltale signs.