Property Grunt

Monday, February 22, 2010

Craigslist comes to Scarsdale but not in a good way.

It is as funny as it is real.

This is the story.

Here is the Lo Hud version.

Family scammed by online 'house for rent' ad

SCARSDALE — A Stamford, Conn., man thought he had found a great deal on Craigslist — only to be surprised — and out $3,000 — when it turned out be a scam.

He saw a house at 956 Post Road on the Web site and wired $3,000 — half for a month's rent and the other half for security — to someone in Nigeria who said he owned the house.

He showed up on Super Bowl Sunday with his family set to move in. He realized he'd been duped when he was met by Anne Moretti of Sotheby's International Realty, who was setting up an open house on behalf of the real owner.

"They were really sort of in shock," said Moretti, the Scarsdale agent.

The would-be tenant could not be reached for comment, but Moretti and Scarsdale police Detective Lt. Bryant G. Clark related this account:

Village police were called to the Dutch Colonial house at 1:12 p.m. Feb. 7 on a report of suspicious people there. That was the Stamford family, who had a key and a van full of furniture, but no lease.

"Needless to say it was a difficult situation," Clark said.

The key may have been stolen and copied by a former worker at the house, investigators said.

Moretti said she felt sorry for the family and called them, "a nice young couple." She noted that people should be wary about renting or buying items off Internet venues like Craigslist.

"This should be a warning to people," she said. "Unfortunately, it happens way too often."

Pelham Manor police this month reported that a resident there had sent three payments totaling $1,495 to someone in London to secure an apartment she saw listed on Yahoo.

By Feb. 9, after seeing the apartment still listed and not able to reach anyone about it, she reported the apparent fraud to police.

Moretti, an agent for 14 years, said people should meet the person they are dealing with before giving them money.

Prospective buyers should research who owns the property, and use a legitimate real estate agent who can help them bypass scams and frauds, she said.

"If there is a deal out there and it sounds like it is too good to be true, it is too good to be true," she said.

Congratulations Scarsdale, you have now joined the Craigslist scam club.

You can read the articles but my take is so much more entertaining: a realtor was holding an open house when a family from Connecticut rolled up to move into the house. This is obviously a worst nightmare for any realtor especially in this market.

The Rube, I mean the Father told the realtor he had answered an ad in Craigslist and sent $3000 for the first month rent and security deposit to Nigeria. In return received a spare key which worked. Here's f**king hint that this business transaction was not kosher. NIGERIA.

The Realtor called the owner, who I assume no longer lived in the house, who's response was "Watchu talkin about Willis." The realtor did some further digging around for the spare key which was nowhere to be found. Can we say inside job? If I was the owner of this home, I would demand a full investigation to determine how the hell that spare key got loose. If I was the realtor I would backtrack and figure out who was in the house.

The cops were called and told the father what was common knowledge at that point; he got scammed and they had not rented the house. So the family turned the keys over, mover their stuff out and left.

I can only imagine how long the bats**t insanity that ensued. I envision the family moving in during the open house while the realtor is screaming at them to stop. It would not surprise me to see the guy blowing his top and the police repeatedly telling "Dude, you got ripped off. Take your s**t and leave."

Seriously, it is easy to ridicule this guy, but honestly, we are all targets. To any of you who own vacant homes, keep track of your spare keys, get an alarm system and would not hurt to invest in a remote surveillance system which would allow you to watch your home via the internet.