Scammers target home sellers

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Brandi Mullet and her husband put their home near Kellogg and Edgemoore on the market several weeks ago.

They spent thousands of dollars renovating it, posted an ad on Zillow and even host open houses for tours.

But over time, and as people came to those open houses, they started to realize there was a problem.

“We started getting phone calls saying, ‘Oh Your house is for rent.’ No our house is not for rent it was for sale,” she said.

While she had an ad out showing the house was for sale, a scammer stole those photos and posted them on Craigslist as a rental, for just $650 per month.

The Mullets had been renting the house out for at least $200 more per month. They did the right thing, trying to contact Craigslist. But even as of Wednesday, the ad was still online.

“Probably spent a good 45 minutes to an hour trying to get in touch with them and tell them, ‘Look, we didn’t put this ad online.’”

It isn’t surprising to the Better Business Bureau. Typically, scammers say they’re out of town suddenly but if money is wired to them, that would be considered a deposit to rent the house.

“The perpetrator is not typically within the U.S. and that creates the problem,” said Denise Groene, with the BBB. “There’s no international policing unit to go after these folks and there’s little recourse. Education is going to be the best line of defense.”

Experts say the best advice is to thoroughly check any posting online. Never blindly send money without having toured a home or apartment and physically meeting with the person in charge.

Mullet said she hadn’t heard from anyone who actually gave money, but she hopes others see the warning before falling for the scam.

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