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Craigs List Scam

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Periodically, Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty receives calls from consumers regarding internet scams on Craig’s List.  The reports outline similar claims and patterns of fraudulent activity. The incidents reported include consumers searching for rental housing in the Greater Burlington area using Craiglist.com, a site featuring free on-line classified listings.  Generally, the consumer will see a rental listing advertised on the website including a property description and photos of home for a below market rental fee.  In all instances, the homes advertised as rental properties have actually been properties listed for sale, not for rent, by a local real estate company.  One consumer, Amanda Thomson and her fiancĂ© agreed to share their story with us in hopes of educating other renters and home buyers in the Greater Burlington Area.

Amanda was looking for a home to rent in Burlington, “I fell in love with the house, but there was something about it that didn’t seem right,” said Amanda. After receiving the request for a deposit in exchange for a key to the property, Amanda felt uneasy and did some more research. The property was not for rent. She fortunately realized it before sending a deposit. “The Internet is certainly a powerful and effective marketing vehicle to promote real estate,” says Leslee MacKenzie, President/Owner of Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty, “The issues we discovered on Craigslist are certainly not limited to our marketplace, but a growing issue across the country. It’s a reminder for everyone that the Internet serves as a great tool, but not a replacement for conducting business face-to-face with people - especially when it involves a major purchase or financial decision.”

According to the Vermont Attorney General’s office, the best form of protection from such scams is public awareness. While in it may seem easy to see certain triggers that may have indicated a hoax; often when you’re dealing with something as personal as finding a place to live in a market that has a low vacancy rate, tenants are under pressure to find something and are holding on to hope. To help consumers recognize on-line fraud as it relates to real estate, Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty offers a few Internet reminders:

  •  Use local sources you recognize or can verify
  •  Never wire or exchange funds for a home or rental you haven’t seen
  • If the asking price is inconsistent with other prices/rents charged in the marketplace ask appropriate questions to find out why
  • Be wary of real estate offers from individuals in a foreign country
  • Don’t forget the old adage, “if it seems too good to be true, it is…”
  • Consider professional services to assist you in your efforts and help make you an informed and educated buyer

If you or someone you know comes across a property on-line that just seems "too good to be true" - give us a call. We're happy to try and verify any information that may seem somewhat out of the ordinary.


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Vermont Real Estate

Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty is a full service Burlington Vermont real estate company providing home buying or home selling services, Relocation services to or from Vermont, and rental assistance to tenants and landlords. Our Concierge Home Services program assists home sellers with preparing their property for sale and also provides our clients with access to a network of Vermont home service providers. We have a more than 55 educated and experienced Vermont real estate agents from which to choose, combining the strength of a prominent national organization, like Coldwell Banker, with the local expertise of a leading Vermont real estate company, Hickok & Boardman. If you want to buy a home in Vermont, sell a home we are large enough to meet your needs, yet small enough to provide the excellent, personalized real estate service you deserve.