Fradulent Real Estate Postings in the Twin Ports

By KBJR News 1

Fradulent Real Estate Postings in the Twin Ports

April 24, 2012 Updated Apr 24, 2012 at 3:19 PM CDT

Superior, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) - The Superior Police Department and Duluth Police Department have received numerous complaints recently regarding fraudulent real estate postings on Craigslist.

Superior Police say the local scam seems to involve the poster claiming to be in Africa, or some other urgent scenario, and therefore they need to rent/lease the property.

The poster requires detailed personal information and a security deposit in advance of closing any deal. The actual property being listed is either a current real estate listing or is not on the market at all.

Fraudulent postings such as these can be flagged directly on Craigslist and can also be reported to local law enforcement and to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov).

As a general rule of thumb, your suspicions should be alerted whenever you are requested to provide any money in advance for these types of transactions and when no face to face meeting can be arranged. For more information please read below:

Below are some scenarios of the scheme recently reported to the IC3:

•A fraudster posted rental property online. When the prospective renter inquired about the property via e-mail, the fraudster requested detailed personal information, as well as a security deposit of $1000 to hold the home. Payment, in the form of a money order, was requested because of the "online scams." After the deposit was received, the fraudster claimed that he mailed the keys and lease agreement for a hard copy to be signed. Later, the victim received an e-mail from an individual posing as the fraudster's "lawyer" stating a hold had been placed on the package containing the key until the full amount of the first and last month's rent is paid. The victim realized it was a scam after they contacted the realtor who advised the home had been foreclosed.

•Another victim also responded via e-mail to an online post advertising a house for rent. The victim was asked to submit an online credit report. The fraudster then provided a link in his e-mail, allowing the victim’s credit report information to be directly accessible to him.

•A complainant had inquired about a condo rental advertised online. The complainant was advised to go to the condo and call the fraudster so he could meet her with the keys. Upon placing the call, no one answered. Later, the fraudster provided the complainant an excuse for not being available and requested the deposit be made through an online payment service. After the deposit was made, the complainant realized it was a scam and contacted the online payment service. Upon an investigation, the receiver of the deposit advised they had been defrauded as well and was only acting as the "pay agent" for the true fraudster.