A n online scam could cost you thousands of dollars and have unwanted guests at your home.
W ith his house up for sale, Jon Benavides is always on alert for potential home buyers. "This time, people showed up unexpectedly on a Saturday morning, so it was a little disconcerting," said Benavidas.
B enavides uses a realtor, so he was quite surprised when the woman said she found the listing on Craigslist. Benavidas never posted the ad on Craigslist. "She was very excited about the listing on Craigslist because the house had everything that she was looking for and she was convinced the house was empty," explained Benavides, "This woman told me that they intended to go through the house."
The ad looks real and describes the house perfectly. That's because the con-artist used the same description of the house posted on the realtor's website.
"T he criminals who do it, are very sophisticated, and sometimes place the ads, sometimes through surrogates. They'll have a person in Malaysia, and they are in Africa, and they will have the person in Malaysia place the ad," said Richard Eppstein with the Better Business Bureau of Northwest Ohio.
Eppstein says when replying to the post on Craigslist, you will get a response that sounds genuine, and believable. "They use religion constantly. 'Praise God, Trust in God,' because Americans tend to be more trusting of someone who says things like that," said Eppstein.
T he con - artist manipulates the victim to believe they are not working with the realtor anymore.The con-artist asks the viewer to send over the first months rent, before mailing over the keys. T he home buyer isn't the only victim in this case, so is the home owner .
"I t's pretty scary to think about people walking through your yard and looking into your windows ," explains Benavides.The ad remains online. The house is still up for sale.
T he Better Business Bureau offers a few red flags for Craigslist consumers to look for.First, if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Also, look at the grammar, most of the time English is the second language for the con-artist. Lastly, if they ask you to send money in advance -- it's probably a scam!