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Property Owners, Renters Target of Online Scam

By Faye Mergel
Published: Friday, January 22nd, 2010

A new cyber scam is out which targets homeowners and renters, prompting investigators to issue a warning so the public can protect their credit report. The most recent victims are two property owners in Albany, Georgia. The owners placed their properties up for sale but they were on another site as rentals.

Property Owners, Renters Target of Online Scam The homeowners did not post their properties for rent in Craigslist and did not ask anyone to do it either. The scammers are out to get money or personal information which they can use to steal money from the credit accounts of unsuspecting victims.

Allyson Jones wanted to sell her home but she had no plan of renting it. To her surprise, someone contacted her and said he was interested in renting her Lake Park home.

Jones said she was quite surprised because she did not list her home as rental. She immediately went to Craigslist and found out that her home was in fact listed there, with the same pictures she posted on another listing website. She said she was really shocked upon seeing the pictures of the home she wanted to sell.

But the incident is no surprise to Sheriff Kevin Sproul. He said there are thousands of scammers in the cyberspace just prowling about, waiting for their next victim.

Jones contacted the Sheriff’s office to inform them about the incident. It is now being investigated as another scam. Lt. Dean Gore said there is a new scam that reaches their office each day. This incident involved a would-be renter giving out his personal information to the person posing as the property owner.

Gore narrated that those scammers try to make victims fill out a credit report and send it to them. Once the scammer already has a victim’s credit report, he would have hold of all his vital information.

Realtor Sal Giovingo said Jones’ case is not unusual as many similar scams have already been reported to a local board of realtors. They were passed to the FBI and other agencies for investigation. He said scammers copy information from other web pages to alter them and present them to the public in a different way.

Giovingo advises the public to be careful on whom they send out personal information to. He said it is important to know the person receiving that information.

As for Jones, she is thankful that she found out about the scam and hopes that other people out there are not taken advantage of. She hopes that her situation would help others be more aware of the presence of scammers.

Her listing was already taken down but somebody placed it again on Craigslist this week.

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