Real estate investors who flip houses to sell for profit are often regulars on listing sites such as Craigslist. In a perfect world, every buyer and every seller would be legitimate, but, there is money to be made. You can never be too careful. Craigslist is full of scammers who will stop at nothing to make a quick buck.
This doesn’t just go for real estate listings, though, and not just Craigslist. Scammers can be found lurking among classifieds all over the web, and it’s best to never let your guard down. Before you list your investment property for sale online, take note of these red flags. You might be dealing with a scammer.
1) “I’m out of the country on business. Please buy my house!”
This ploy is rampant throughout listings on sites such as Craigslist, and it’s often very easy to determine you are dealing with a fraud. The listed house for sale seems legitimate, there are adequate photos provided, and there’s enough information to pique your interest. However, this is where the deal gets fishy.
There’s usually no phone number listed, and you are required to send an inquiry email. In response, you are sent an email that severely lacks in grammar, could be poorly worded, or in broken English. The “owner” might claim they are out of the country, for reasons that could vary from logical to completely absurd, but their message is clear: they absolutely must have someone buy this house.
Now, scams like these usually do have pictures of real houses, and you are even allowed to drive by the property to check it out, yourself. However, proceed with caution. The scammer in question likely perused real listing ads in your area. Luckily, though, this house can be yours right after you send a $10,000 payment to some obscure corner of the world via Western Union! (Not really. This is most definitely a scam. Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.)
2) “There’s a Western Union at 1234 Street Ave., send me money!”
After minimal communication, the mysterious buyer or seller will direct you to the closest Western Union or other money-wiring service. The scammer will require that you wire money or send a check for a “down payment,” after which they will overnight you the key to the property. Once again, don’t do it. A real buyer or seller will not do this, any money you send will never be seen again.
3) “I want to buy the property without seeing it. I’ll send a certified check.”
Unfortunately, this ploy is frequently believed, and a lot of investors who want to sell their property on Craigslist are tricked out of their money. An example of this type of scam includes a text or an email that reads along these lines:
“Ok. I am happy to buy from you. What is ur name and mailing address? I will send a certified check for $5,000 payment, and it will be delivered in the mail tomorrow. U can keep an extra $1,000 for your trouble, but pls send me the other $2,000 back to me after my check clears.”
Sounds legit, right? You even get to make an extra one-thousand dollars of this deal! Not so fast. After you receive that check in the mail, everything may seem to go fine with the deposit, but the scammer is hoping you’ll send your own money back to them for the requested amount. Beware. Once your bank discovers you deposited a bogus check from the “buyer,” it will be voided, and you have just lost two-thousand dollars to a scammer.
4) They insist on using their own resources only.
It could be likely that a legitimate buyer or seller wants to use their third-party resources as well. However, a scammer will be insistent upon it. These payment methods and escrow agents offered are probably not legitimate, so suggest to use PayPal or an independent, reputable escrow agent instead. If you are met with a flat refusal to use anything outside of their own resources, it’s likely you are dealing with a scammer.
5) If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Granted, there are plenty of great deals out there, and not all of them are scams. However, you should always proceed with caution when working with an anonymous buyer or seller on the internet. Do your research. If something seems rotten, trust your gut. There are plenty of reputable buyers and sellers out there, and diligence will separate from the frauds.
Start in the right place to avoid the hassle.
When you deal with most classified pages, you resort to crossing your fingers as you attempt to weed out a decent property.We know there’s a lot of troublesome characters out there, and we hope you never have to put this blog’s advice to use. Instead, avoid the stress of scammers and start your property search with us.
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