Consumer Fraud Alerts
It has come to our attention that various Internet solicitations have appeared with increased frequency on such posting boards as Craigslist.com encouraging consumers to deposit escrow funds to secure an apartment via payment through Western Union payable to www.cbharper.com. Please be advised that Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC and cbharper.com are not in any way connected to this solicitation which is in fact fraudulent. Craigslist, Western Union and law enforcement are being advised.
Additionally, we have been made aware of an Advance Fee Scam involving the unauthorized use of a brand name such as the Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® brand name, website and email address.
The scammer lures the victim (e.g., a prospective tenant) by posting an offer of a high-standard apartment for low cost, even showing pictures of the apartment. The scammer uses online classified ad services such as craigslist.org to post such offers. The victim is told that the renter is "traveling," "vacationing abroad" or "relocating." The victim is required to pay a deposit via Western Union in exchange for the "keys" to the property. In an effort to instill confidence in this transaction, the scammer fraudulently claims to have listed the apartment with a local Coldwell Banker office and arranges for a fraudulent email notification posing as a Coldwell Banker representative (and using Coldwell Banker logos) to be sent to the victim. The scammer disappears once the deposit is received, leaving the prospective tenant defrauded.
Here are some tips to help you avoid such scams:
- KNOW THE PERSON YOU ARE SENDING MONEY TO - you receive an email from a Coldwell Banker Sales Associate with payment instructions, call the requesting office using the phone number located in our Office Search.
- CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions or provide escrow services.
- USE CAUTION WHEN GIVING OUT FINANCIAL AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION VIA EMAIL (bank account number, credit card number, social security number, etc.)
- AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL "GUARANTEE" YOUR TRANSACTION.
- These types of scams often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before withdrawing your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE.
- PROPERTY/APARTMENT LISTING MAY BE LOCAL, but landlord/owner is "travelling" or "relocating" and needs you to wire money to them abroad.
Most scams involve one or more of the following:
- Inquiry from someone far away, often in another country.
- Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee."
- Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consummating transaction.
Who should you notify about fraud or scam attempts?
- FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
- FTC online complaint form (www.ftc.gov)
- Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501
- Internet Fraud Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov)
- Non-emergency number for your local police department.
- The government agency in your country responsible for dealing with fraud
Thanks in advance.
Coldwell Banker Customer Care