Scam artists target home hunters

Anne Perry
Anne Perry
Bleydis Borge
Bleydis Borge

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Internet can be a great tool, but scam artists are using it to target Hawaii, turning home hunters searching for a steal into the hunted.

Looking for a new home?

Well then you're probably scanning sites like Craigslist online, swimming in a sea of rental applications.

But renters/buyers beware you may be biting on the bait of a scam artist.

Jason Carino knows a good deal when he see's one. While searching for a new home in Makiki, he learned among the ads of sellers are some stealers.

"It showed a beautiful three bedroom house and I thought to myself this is a little too good to be true," said Carino.

It turned out it was. Jason did some research and found out the home wasn't even for sale. And scammers aren't stopping there, just ask Bleydis Borge. She replied to an ad for a place in Kailua and was asked to answer a list of ten questions.

"The last one was how fast can you send the money and I could just send you the keys and everything, I thought it was a little bit too weird," said Borge.

Anne Perry says crooks copied her ad she placed to sell a client's house, pictures, description and everything.

And the calls came in.

"I said well it is not for rent and they became angry because it was on Craigslist," said Perry.

The potential buyer sees the screaming deal and they're excited, they're more than excited, they're thrilled, so they go an check out the property. The owner opens the door to a stranger who suddenly wants a tour.

"It's not as bad as being robbed but it is fraud and it is a violation of someone's integrity," said Perry.

Bleydis, Jason, and Anne's client all got this same response. It's a letter from someone who says he suddenly had to move from Hawaii to Africa.

This scam artist asks with bad grammar, that you wire him the money and then he'll send you the keys in the mail. Buyers say the best defense against home hunting online, an Armour of common sense.

"It's a great tool if used properly but you have to be a little bit savvy, you have to know that generally that if its too good to be true and sounds too good to be true, it probably is," said Carino.

If you are in the market to rent or buy a home, experts say you should only do business with someone you meet face to face.

They say whether you're a tenant or a landlord, have a detailed contract in place before you exchange cash.

And if you have any doubts about a listing, contact the realtor or the Better Business Bureau.