Craigslist Scams Warning

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Real Estate Agent with Realty Group Referrals 16766

Craigslist Scams Warning

 

Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection Warns About Increased Scams Involving Craigslist Around the Holidays

Shopping or selling on Craigslist can be convenient, but Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection has a warning about either end of potential transactions: buyers and sellers beware—especially around the holidays. This open marketplace also contains scams targeting both buyers and sellers.

Eric Friedman, the director of the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, said scams involving Craigslist can involve transactions as simple as merchandise or as complicated as real estate.

“Although this marketplace is a great way to do direct business for many, it also has opened an entire criminal world of people trying to take advantage of those expecting to simply improve their lives through what they believe to be a great deal that they can make online,” said Department Director Friedman. “And as much as this goes on throughout the year, the holiday season is an especially ripe time for criminals because they try to take advantage of people when they are distracted by many special events, looking for holiday deals or ready to make changes as the new year approaches.”

Director Friedman said those looking to rent a house or apartment need to watch out for fake advertisements. 

In this approach, scammers copy attractive photos from legitimate advertisements and typically offer an unusually low rental price. These ads will contain a story about why the landlord cannot personally meet the tenant at the house or apartment. The prospective tenant is instructed to send the money for the security deposit or first month’s rent to the scammer. In exchange, the prospective renter is told the “landlord” will mail the keys to the tenant or leave the keys at a designated location.

“Some of these ‘it-sounds-to-good-to-be true’ deals end with money being sent for something that never existed,” said Director Friedman. “Rental advertisements may also include phony government documents to convince the prospective tenant that the advertisement is legitimate. Our office investigated a complaint in which the scammer sent a fake document to the consumer inquiring about the rental. This creative scammer made a fictitious ‘Certificate of Occupancy’ to fool the prospective tenant into believing that the rental apartment advertised was properly registered with Montgomery County.” 

Among the false information that was in the document:

  • A reference to the Montgomery County “Department of Public Works” (no such agency exists).
  • Fictitious official names and signatures (the County Government does not have any employees by those names).
  • Fictitious address listed as the issuing office was actually the address of the County Executive’s office.

Sellers also need to be careful on Craigslist, said Department Director Friedman.

“When consumers offer items for sale on Craigslist, it is common for scammers to contact the consumer and pretend to be interested in purchasing the item for sale,” he said. “The fake buyer typically will have a story about why the buyer needs to pay with a check that is made payable for more than the selling price. In return, the scam buyer will instruct the consumer to send a check back to the buyer to return the extra money. Of course, the scam buyer’s check will prove to be worthless and the consumer selling the item will have lost the money sent to the scam buyer or may receive nothing for having sold the advertised item.”

The Craigslist website contains helpful tips about how to avoid several different scams and can be found at https://www.craigslist.org/about/scams.

In addition, sellers and buyers in Montgomery County are invited by County Police to conduct transactions at “exchange zones” at Police stations in order to exchange merchandise and payment. 

For additional information about this or other scams, and to file complaints, contact the County Office of Consumer Protection via email at ConsumerProtection@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov or by phone at 240-777-3636. 

 

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Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

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Roy Kelley and Associates

 

Roy Kelley, Associate Broker

Realty Group Referrals (Retired from RE/MAX Realty Group)

6 Montgomery Village Ave., Suite 200

Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Main Office:  301-258-7757 (You will not reach me at this number)

Send an email message if you need my phone numbers. I will be happy to recommend a real estate professional if you are moving to the area.

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Rainmaker
5,119,398
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Good morning, Roy Kelley I've always stayed off Craig's List.... always...

Nov 03, 2019 02:38 AM #1
Rainmaker
3,364,771
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Roy. No Craigslist deals for me. Just not my thing. Enjoy your day!

Nov 03, 2019 04:37 AM #2
Rainmaker
3,301,883
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

We don't use Craig's list for lots of this kind of issue.

Nov 03, 2019 05:33 AM #3
Rainmaker
2,645,826
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

There are way too many scammers out there, it seems that we come across a scam or multiple scams daily, so sad.

Nov 03, 2019 05:59 AM #4
Rainmaker
3,692,377
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Roy. This is very scary and very very important. Thank you for sharing.

Nov 03, 2019 06:33 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,992,255
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Roy - this is very important information.  I am wary of Craig's List.

Nov 03, 2019 06:36 AM #6
Rainmaker
4,160,424
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Roy, I used to use Craigslist, especially when listing condos, until I got a WEIRDO call me.   He then called for a week, just breathing....  Never again.  Great warning.

Nov 03, 2019 06:45 AM #7
Rainmaker
3,426,151
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Roy - one needs to stay aware.  At all times.  Things happen.

Nov 03, 2019 07:06 AM #8
Rainmaker
3,211,984
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Roy... Craig's List has been such a problem for so long virtually everyone I know stays off of them... sometimes I'm surprised they still exist.

Nov 03, 2019 08:17 AM #9
Rainmaker
4,572,886
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy

Roy,

Good warning, and we have been aware of the problems with Craig's list.  We ignore it as if it does not exist.  A

Nov 03, 2019 09:24 AM #11
Rainmaker
2,600,137
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Craig's List could be a great resource, but sadly like so many other things, scam artists have found a way to ruin it for others.

Nov 03, 2019 02:39 PM #14
Ambassador
3,442,697
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

You've got to be extra vigilant during the holidays. I don't frequent Craigslist anymore for this very reason. Thanks for spreading the word about these scams Roy.

Nov 03, 2019 03:10 PM #17
Ambassador
3,962,517
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Roy- goo information to share with your community. We've used Craigslist but are very cautious. 

Nov 03, 2019 05:21 PM #22
Rainmaker
659,070
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

Hi @Roy Kelley Thanks for the reminders. I do advertise on Craigslist and it sold one property a few months ago and possibly another property this week.

Now...buying a used snowblower on an online auction...well that $50 bucks may be a lost cause as the snowblower runs but has locked up in neutral after 3 passes across the driveway!!!

Dec 02, 2019 08:28 AM #25
Rainmaker
311,543
Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805
Action Realty - Apple Valley, CA
CRS, GRI 909-969-3805

Hi Roy,

 

The old saying applies to Craigslist. "If it's too good to be true, it probably is."

Scammers are out in force everywhere. Someone already tried to send me a Bitcoin scam this morning.  Good post and very useful.

 

Dec 02, 2019 09:16 AM #26
Rainmaker
5,502,856
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Your feedback is always welcome and is very much appreciated.

Dec 02, 2019 11:09 AM #27
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