Having your listing hijacked by scammers has become a huge problem for Realtors. Anything can be copied from Realtor.com and reposted onto other websites like Craigslist, Hotpads, etc. I had not experienced this inconvenience, until now…
I recently listed this beautiful home in Slidell, LA for $410,000. I received my first inquiry on the property within less than 24 hours of adding to the MLS system Unfortunately, it was not from a buyer. Fortunately, it was from a very kind, very savvy lease property shopper who believed the deal was too good to be true. She had found my listing on Hotpads.com as a lease for $1,000 a month (including utilities). She decided to search the address on Realtor.com and found the real listing - my listing. She was kind enough to take the time to notify me of the unauthorized listing.
I immediately contacted Hotpads by email, informing them of the unauthorized post, asking them to remove it promptly. I guess I could have stopped there, but that is not really in my nature…
1. I responded to the unauthorized listing, letting the Scammer know I was very interested.
2. I received a very lengthy letter from the “homeowner” telling me their life story and explaining why they need to rent out their home. They included an “application” for me to fill out. The “application” consisted of my name, address, phone number, number of people that would be living in the home & how much money I would send them to secure the property.
They told me to just drive by and look in all of the windows to make sure I liked their home! My listing is occupied by a family who I’m pretty sure would not appreciated people peeking in their windows!
3. I completed their “application” and agreed to send them first & last months rent.
4. I received an email letting me know that my “application” was accepted!! What a lucky girl!
The forwarded me the Western Union account information I would need and said they would go straight from Western Union to FedEx and mail me the keys to my new lovely home!
Now the fun begins….
I notified the Scammer that I was actually the legal listing agent for the property, he was committing fraud and I would be notifying the authorities.
The response I received was priceless!!!....
“Thanks for wasting my time”.
I did have a phone conversation with the Scammer in the middle of all of this nonsense. The Scammer could barely speak English. He was using a translation device to figure out what I said - very long pauses after I spoke. His emails and text messages contained very broken English. It’s amazing that people fall for this...but they do.
So, how can we prevent this from happening to our listings? Well, we can’t.
What you can do is set a Google Alert for each new listing you put in the MLS. Google Alert will notify you any time anything about that address is added to a site. You can then notify the website that an unauthorized listing has been added.
Be sure to report the Scammers to each site they have placed the unauthorized listing!!!