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Housing scams on Craigslist and eBay

Posted in Crime Prevention September 9th, 2008 @ 9:20 am

With so many homes on the market today, many people looking for a good deal are turning to Craigslist or EBay to find a home. If you have been thinking about buying a home from one of these on-line markets, once again we encourage you to beware of unethical practices.

Take for example a couple who was trying to relocate to New York and used Craigslist to find a new home. Instead, they found that their home was listed for rent on Craigslist and they didn’t post the listing! Many real estate experts say that this scheme is becoming more common. At least three of these types of listings have been reported in the last thirty days.

Scammers find listings on for sale properties, put them up on the online marketing sites and claim the listings as their own. As a result, the scammer gets the money and not the owner. The scammers are from somewhere overseas and possibly originating from South Africa.

Another type of housing scam comes from eBay. The trend now is to buy and sell foreclosed homes. Local and outside buyers are buying vacant homes that need repairs. They buy these homes from banks and government agencies, list and sell them on eBay. Once known as “flipping” this type of practice is setting a whole new level of speed. Homes can be bought for as little as a couple thousand dollars, often come with boarded windows and stripped siding, and are sold in a short period of time.

The problem occurs when these homes are flipped even before a title transfer occurs. This leaves the new owners with whatever citations and violations come with the house. For instance, if the former owner had any type of city or local violations with the house the new owner runs the risk of ending up in Housing Court to pay these fines. Daily fines can reach $1,000 and sometimes jail sentences of 180 days imposed for failure to fix a property.

Once again, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Don’t get caught in the middle because you end up paying more at the end.

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