People turn to Craigslist for all kinds of different things. Most of the time, this is a place where you can buy and sell items or advertise services such as housecleaning or yard work. However, Craigslist isn’t always the safe place most people wish it was. In fact, there are times when it can be downright dangerous. If you follow the news in any capacity, you’ve probably heard of more than one example where someone was actually injured because they were trying to buy or sell something they saw on the site. Another thing you have to remember is that it isn’t always your physical health and well-being that you need to worry about. You also have to watch out for your bank account or you might end up being the victim of one of these five scams that have been occurring in the Phoenix area.
Fake Checks Galore
This scam has been happening for so long that you can even find warning on Craigslist itself, all cautioning you not to accept checks from someone you don’t know when you can’t verify the validity of those checks. Nevertheless, it still happens all the time. It happened to one Phoenix resident when put some pianos up for sale. He thought he had sold two of them and he got two separate checks. The problem was that neither of the checks were good. In fact, they were complete fabrications. By the time he realized it, he’d already let the so-called customer take delivery of both pianos.
Advertising Rental Property That’s not Actually for Rent
Identity thieves seem to always be a step ahead of everyone else and this is a perfect example. They have been advertising rental property cheap in the Phoenix area, providing a contact number so they can be contacted to set up a time for prospective renters to see the property. Unfortunately, there is no property to be seen, but the people trying to rent don’t know that. Once they contact these people, they claim they need to run a credit check so they require that a form be filled out with the prospective renter’s personal information. The thieves then take that information and run with it, using it to open credit card accounts and anything else they can get their hands on.
The PayPal Scam
This is another one that preys on those who have posted something for sale on Craigslist. People use untraceable phone numbers to text the seller and say they’re interested in whatever is being sold, but that they don’t want to meet in person. They claim that instead, they will just send the money over to the seller’s PayPal account and then have someone come to pick up the item that’s being sold. They have no intention if paying for anything, but when they get your PayPal information, they use it to drain your account.
The Moving Scam
People have been looking for movers on Craigslist in hopes of saving some money. In the Phoenix area, scammers are advertising their services as moving companies. Unsuspecting people hire them, they come in and pack up all their stuff, and load it onto a truck. That’s the last time the family is likely to see any of their possessions. The so-called movers are supposed to be taking it to the new house, but they simply don’t show up. When the family tries to contact them, it seems as though they’ve vanished into thin air.
Scamming College Students
This one has scammers advertising jobs that don’t really exist, asking for college students to respond. The ads claim that students can make a lot of money that will be directly deposited into their bank account. All they need to do is provide their new “employers” with their information. Of course, there is no such job and no paycheck. The only thing they want that information for is so they can wipe out whatever money is already in there.
*And it's not just Craigslist we're warning people about. Let's take a look at some other scams as well. Stay up to date by frequently visiting Arizona's Government Site.
1. Internet Auction Scam
Buying things at online auction sites can be very exciting, but plenty of Phoenix area consumers get scammed by fake auction sites every year. If you plan to bid online there are a few things to be aware of. Always check the site. You can look up reviews and even Better Business Bureau ratings for most legitimate sites. Always use a credit card to make your purchases where possible. This is safer because of the protections from the issuing credit company. If something does go wrong report it immediately. You can begin with your credit card company and reporting the problem to the Attorney Generals' Office.
2. Alzheimers Medicine Scam
Alzheimer's is a serious health problem for some people. Concerned sufferers and their families are always seeking new ways to help maintain the quality of life for the affected people. This has led to a rise in false product marketing that leads more Phoenix consumers to throw money away on these sadly false claims every year. In addition to simply not living up to the hype, taking these sorts of false products can interfere with real treatment when people avoid going to see their doctors.
3. Lottery Winner Scam
You've won! Isn't it exciting! Scams targeting Phoenix area 'winners' get reported all too often. The biggest clue to a fraudulent winner scam is that the company asks you to pay for something. With a legitimate lottery or contest, the recipient does not need to purchase anything. You should not be asked to subscribe or even pay a handling fee to receive a check. When you win in real life, it is by chance, there is no point where, for any reason, the company issuing the reward has a reason to ask for payment. This includes so-called taxes, or even being directed to call an 800 or 900 number where you pay for the call time.
4. Debt Relief Scam
American consumers have hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. Getting it paid off is a priority for most, and when someone offers to help it can be very compelling. Companies like Southeast Trust, LLC., which the FTC recently got a 2.7 million dollar judgment against, offer to 'help,' solve your debt problems. Don't buy into these scams (literally). Any company that guarantees they can make your creditors go away should be suspect. Moreover, if they ask for upfront payment before they settle your debts, it's probably a scam. Far from debt settlement, you'll simply find you have less money to pay your debts down.
5. Timeshare Resale Scam
Owners of timeshares may decide to sell their holding for various reasons. Lack of use, financial hardship or even merely choosing a new location are all normal parts of making the choice to resell your timeshare. Con artists in the form of 'helpful' solicitors prey on Arizona owners need to get out from under their timeshares as well. They offer, for a fee, of course, to assist in the sale. The dishonest salesmen then take the money and disappear, but this type of scam can come with a second and more devious trick. Additional solicitations from a 'different' company that offers to help recover the lost money can show up on the heels of the initial loss. COnsumers who take this second offer pay twice to get taken for a ride by the same intricate trick.
6. Property Manager Fraud
Perhaps a bit less common are property management fraudsters like EPMI Property Management. These crafty con artists used their business to take consumer information from HOA clients bank accounts directly. Whether you are a homeowner, renter, or own income property of your own, it is vital to maintain vigilant financial oversight. Hiring someone else to manage things does not mean you should step back so completely that you don't know how much money you should have in the bank.
7. Credit Card Skimmers
Some scams in Phoenix involve special equipment. Credit card skimmers are one of the ways that high-tech thieves are taking money from consumers in the area often. The skimmer is actually placed inside the card reader to steal credit card information. You can take some basic steps to avoid this problem as well. Always use a credit card and avoid using ATM cards. Pick a pump that is easily seen by employees, preferably right up front and in a well-lit area with a clear sight line directly to the cashier. Another good practice is to always check your statements and be certain no false charges have been made.
8. Tax Preparer Fraud
Consumers are subject to plenty of schemes and tricks, but none is likely to be quite as confusing as tax fraud. Taxes have always been a confusing topic and this leads to a huge number of people to hire professionals to handle it for them. Most of the time this is a wise decision, but even a professional tax preparation agent can commit fraud with consumer money. Such was the case with Oscar Hernandez who was recently jailed and ordered to pay restitution in excess of $100,000 for falsifying his clients' tax forms to get them larger returns. Be aware of what gets listed on your tax forms, just knowing your own basic tax status could have saved numerous taxpayers from getting embroiled in this scam.
9. Facebook Grant Scams
Facebook scams make the rounds on a regular basis. They come in many varieties but recently a Phoenix-area woman got caught up in one of the more common online swindles. A friend's account sent her a message about government grants. Most of us tend to trust our friends, so when the 'catch,' to getting a huge $50,000 grant from the government was a mere $700 fee, it seemed like it might be reasonable enough. Here's the flaw in that logic, it doesn't cost money to get grants from the government. You have to apply, and typically organizations rather than individuals receive the benefit. In this case, the friend had had their account hacked, but regardless, don't pay money out in order to receive money. It is almost always a scam.
10. Craigslist Rental Home Scam
A local area single mother fell for an all too common Craigslist scam while seeking housing. It seems legitimate at first. You see a listing for a reasonably priced rental home. There are pictures, not just outside, but internal shots. The owner has contact information listed and you can even drive past and look at the home to be certain it's really what it looks like. So far so good. When you contact the owner they are out of town, but you can send the deposit and they'll take the listing down. The house is yours and the owner will be back shortly to sign contracts and get you the keys. However, once you send the deposit they disappear. The photos turn out to be stolen from another listing and you are out a fair sum of money. As with most scams, never agree to send money before you verify the facts.
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Written by Garrett Parker
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