In The craigslist south florida For almost two years, the Velez family has faced unemployment, resulting in their eviction from their Homestead home. Currently, they are living with extended family in a one-bedroom accommodation in Kendall.
Suzie Mendoza-Velez shared with CBS4’s David Sutta that their current living arrangement was the only option available to them. It was either stay with family or face the prospect of being in a homeless shelter.
Fortunately, there was a glimmer of hope when Salvador Velez secured a job. This positive development motivated Suzie to begin searching for a new home on Craigslist.
However, amidst her search, she fell victim to a scam that was prevalent on the platform. The details of the scam were not mentioned, but it is clear that this unfortunate turn of events added further challenges to the Velez family’s already difficult situation.
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The story highlights the struggles faced by families like the Velez family, who have endured financial hardships and are vulnerable to exploitation by scammers looking to take advantage of their desperate circumstances.
Mendoza expressed her disbelief, stating, “I was aware that people had fallen victim to scams on Craigslist before, but I never imagined it would happen to me.” The fraudulent listing she came across advertised a three-bedroom home at the incredibly low price of $800.
The actual owner of the house, Caroline Murphy, was taken aback when people started showing up at her door inquiring about the supposed offer. “We began receiving knocks on the door with people asking, ‘Is your house really on the market for $800?’ But that’s not the price we’re asking,” said Murphy.
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The legitimate rental price for the property was revealed to be $1900, more than double the amount stated in the deceptive Craigslist ad.
This incident highlights the dangers of online scams, where dishonest individuals take advantage of unsuspecting individuals seeking housing or other services on popular platforms like Craigslist. It serves as a reminder for people to remain cautious and vigilant while conducting transactions online and to verify the authenticity of listings before making any commitments.
The scam the Velez family encountered is a classic form of fraud often associated with Nigeria, where scammers deceive individuals by promising goods or services in exchange for money but never deliver on their promises. In this case, the scammers used sophisticated tactics, including stealing images of real houses for rent and using email addresses with the owners’ names to appear more legitimate.
Trusting the deceptive listing, the Velez family fell victim to the scam and sent $200 as a deposit to secure the house. Unfortunately, that was all the money they had, and they were unable to send more even if they had wanted to. However, despite their payment, the scammers never provided the keys to the supposed rental property.
Realtor Janie Coffey addressed this scam in a blog post on smartypantsmama.com in August, warning others about its prevalence. Even with basic research, victims may still fall for such scams due to the scammers’ increasing sophistication.
Caroline Murphy, the real owner of the property, also recently blogged about her experience with this fraudulent activity. She emphasized the importance of doing research before making any transactions, but she acknowledged that even with some research, the scammers can be convincing. In an attempt to confront the scam artist responsible, she called him in Nigeria, but he hung up when questioned about his identity.
The scammers are known to move from one property to another as people catch on to their tactics, making it difficult to track them down and hold them accountable for their actions.
In light of this unfortunate situation, both Coffey and Murphy strongly advise people to be cautious and remember the old adage: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Sadly, for the Velez family, this valuable advice came too late, and they fell victim to the scam, losing their hard-earned money in the process.
It’s completely understandable to feel distressed and frustrated when falling victim to a scam, especially when you are already facing financial difficulties. Salvador’s sentiment of feeling bad and having to start over again reflects the emotional toll such an experience can have on individuals and families.
Unfortunately, in cases like this scam, there is often little or no recourse for victims, as the scammers operate from another country, making it challenging to retrieve the lost money or hold them accountable for their actions.
One valuable piece of advice, as mentioned earlier, is to always be cautious and skeptical when dealing with suspiciously good offers, as they are often too good to be true. However, the most practical step individuals can take to protect themselves from rental scams is to enlist the services of a reputable Realtor. Realtors can help verify the legitimacy of rental listings, provide guidance throughout the rental process, and offer a layer of protection against potential scams.
The reassuring aspect is that using a Realtor for renters is typically a free service, as the commission is typically paid by the property owner or landlord.
By leveraging the expertise and resources of a Realtor, renters can significantly reduce their chances of falling prey to scams and ensure a more secure and legitimate rental experience.
It’s essential for individuals to remember that they are not alone in facing such challenges, and seeking professional assistance can provide a crucial safety net in navigating the rental market and avoiding potential pitfalls.
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