You’re told not to believe everything you see online, especially when it seems too good to be true.
As scammers become smarter, they’re using websites you wouldn’t expect to get money out of people. If you’re in the market to buy, sell, or rent a home, beware.
“They use Zillow to take the photos to get the listing information, and then they tend to pop up on Craigslist, or they put them on Zillow as a rental as well,” real estate broker Shannon Foster-Boline said.
The catchy price wasn’t the case for Whitney Brooker and her fiance. They went as far as signing a lease agreement, only to find out they’ve been scammed and out almost $2,000.
“They said they were going to send over the keys, and then they asked for another month’s rent just to make sure we were serious, and I was like ‘yeah,’ after we already signed the lease,” Brooker said.
After two months’ rent had been paid, and a lease agreement was signed through email, the scammers went as far as posing with the real homeowner’s name, then asking for another $700. That’s when Whitney put an end to it.
“Once they kept on asking, that’s when we were like, ‘no, let’s not do this.’ We basically said, ‘you stole from our son It’s not just us, we can get by without eating, you stole from him, we need the money for formula and food,'” Brooker said.
Local 8 News reached out to the number Whitney has been in contact with—it was an out-of-state text-only number, another red flag.
“Don’t just take one source at face value,” Foster-Boline said. “With Zillow, I think it’s a lot easier to report a false rental, so take advantage of the tools, they’re trying really hard to try and eliminate scams.”