As people have gotten wiser to the obvious hallmarks of online scams, the scammers have had to step up their game in order to keep making a dishonest buck. And now that people begin thinking about their upcoming summer vacation rentals, these scammers are prepared with the latest in darned-close-to-realistic-but-still-fake realty listings.
According to a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, realtors at the Jersey Shore (the actual place, not that walking puddle of self-tan lotion on MTV) say they are seeing a new level of sophistication in the ads that scam artists place on Craigslist and other sites.
From the Inquirer:
Scammers apparently have been able to hack into legitimate real estate databases, find properties listed for rent or sale, and obtain confidential details about the owners.
To make their bogus postings look legitimate, the scam artists use the hacked information — including photos of the houses and the names of the property owners – to direct their targets to phony e-mail addresses…
The scammers further entice victims by offering the properties for less than half the going rate.
But the key indicator that these are a scam is that you are often required to wire money to the “rental agent” before picking up your keys at the office (where they will just stare at you wondering what the heck you’re talking about).
And yet, several people have already been taken by this scam for “deposits” of anywhere from $800 to $1,000 that ended up in Nigerian bank accounts.
So even if someone is using the real name and number of a rental agency — and even if the photos and address of the property are legitimate — that doesn’t mean you aren’t being set up for a scam.
Shore renters being duped by Craigslist scammers [Philly.com]