RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

Renters Beware: Scams Pervasive on Craigslist

March 2, 2016 2:09 am

Apartment hunters in big cities know the drill: they spot a listing for a well-priced, attractive place and make an inquiry, only to be met with demands for an instant credit check or an upfront fee to access the full listing. Savvier home hunters spot these scams immediately, but others fall through the cracks, making popular rental listing sites like Craigslist a highly lucrative spot for fraud.

A recently released study by researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering found that Craigslist fails to identify more than half of scam rental listings, and that suspicious postings often linger for as long as 20 hours before being removed—more than enough time to snare victims, especially in competitive housing markets.

The research team at NYU analyzed more than 2 million rental listings on Craigslist over a five-month period to gain an end-to-end understanding of how such scams are structured and which strategies may undermine them. The team detected and analyzed about 29,000 fraudulent listings in 20 major cities, ultimately mapping the listings into seven distinct scam categories, most of which involved credit card payments.

One of the most common was a credit report scam, in which a fraudulent poster instructs a would-be tenant to click a link and purchase a credit report. The scammer gets a referral commission from the credit reporting site even though there is no property for rent.

In another scheme, the "cloned listing" scam, rental listings from other sites are duplicated and posted on Craigslist at a lower price. Scammers make money by requesting a rent deposit via wire transfer from prospective tenants. By responding to these ads and analyzing IP addresses and banking wire information, the researchers learned that most of these schemes originate in Nigeria and are administered by a small group of "scam factories."

Another pervasive scam involved "real estate service" companies, in which victims are asked to pay both an upfront fee and a monthly membership fee to access listings of pre-foreclosure rentals or rent-to-own properties. In the majority of cases, the companies leading the scams have no connection to the properties listed.

The cities included in the study were Austin, Texas; Boston, Mass.; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Detroit, Mich.; El Paso, Texas; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Los Angeles, Calif,; Memphis, Tenn.; New York, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Phoenix, Ariz.; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, Calif.; San Francisco, Calif.; and Seattle, Wash.

Source: NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Common Money Mistakes Draining Your Funds

March 1, 2016 12:03 am

Everybody blows a little money now and then, but too many people make it a habit. To take control of your finances and keep more cash on hand, financial advisors suggest diligently avoiding these six common money mistakes:

1. Keeping up with friends – One way to get into financial trouble is trying to match someone else’s lifestyle. Sticking to a budget may mean missing out on a few indulgences, but the upside is a manageable credit card bill you can pay off in 30 days without paying interest fees.

2. Paying interest on credit cards – Speaking of interest rates, paying 20 percent on a credit card while earning 0.2 percent on your savings is costing you plenty. Leave yourself an emergency cushion, but use the bulk of your savings to pay off that credit card debt. If you don’t have savings to draw from, refer back to number one (above) and start living a cash-only lifestyle.

3. Buying new instead of used – These days, 100,000 miles is just the halfway point for a lot of cars, so buy one used that has already depreciated and comes with a lower monthly payment. Consider buying used for other goods as well, such as books, sports gear and appliances.

4. Signing up and spacing out – Be alert to automatic renewals and ongoing monthly charges for services you no longer use. Scan your monthly bills carefully. If you don’t want that extra phone service, gym membership, subscription or extra cable network you’ve been paying for, pick up the phone and cancel it.

5. Ignoring your employer’s 401(k) match – You’re throwing away money if you don’t claim every dollar your employer will contribute to your retirement plan. Find a way to pay in more of your own money, even if it means giving up that morning latte. (Wake-up call: That $5 coffee every day is costing you $150 a month, or $1,800 a year. Enough said.)

6. Letting bank fees drain your account – Switch to a bank that offers free checking. Avoid using out-of-network ATMs and stay on top of your balance to avoid overdraft fees. 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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