Online Realtor Program Targets Unlisted Homes
GRAYSON, Ky. (WSAZ) – Thousands of people are putting their homes up for sale, using online realtor sites to reach more buyers.
Roberta Lucas waited for a convenience store to arrive at her house on Thursday. However, she got an unexpected visitor who was looking to buy her house, but the only thing the house wasn’t listed was for sale.
“A man pulled up in the driveway and I thought it was the Windstream tech. Then I saw him sitting there for a while and I opened the door and said, ‘can I help you ?’ He then asked is this your address? I went on to say yes. He then said, “I came to see the house for sale on Zillow,” Lucas said.
The Lucas family home was not for sale. Lucas said someone put his house up for sale on Zillow using photos of where his house was on the market in 2014.
She believes it was part of a scheme to make money by creating fake house listings and then collecting the application fee.
Only certain listings on Zillow have listing fees.
“There is such an increase in crime, and I don’t want to be a victim of it, and in turn, we have been victimized. Something I never expected in my life,” Lucas said.
WSAZ contacted Zillow to find out how owners can protect themselves from fraudulent listings and received the following response:
“Zillow strives to provide a secure online community on our platform, and we strive to monitor activity and educate our users about the possibility of scams and how to protect themselves. Our teams use a number of different tools to prevent inappropriate content from being posted, but if an ad is found to be fraudulent after it is posted, our team takes action to remove it from our site. We have a “Beware of scams and other Internet fraud” on the site, advising users to watch out for red flags such as wire transfer requests and long distance inquiries, and other valuable information on how to avoid fraudulent listings.”
Lucas also contacted Zillow, and she said the company was working to remove the listing from her home.
On every ad, there is a report issue with the ad option. Zillow recommends if you spot a suspicious listing, fill out the form and alert their staff.
Lucas warns other homeowners to know that your house could also be there.
“Do your own research,” Lucas said. “Be on top because if you’re not what these people want to do, it could potentially ruin your life.
Lucas said she believed the scheme was an invasion of privacy.
Under these circumstances, Lucas was informed by the police that no crime had been committed. If anyone approached the house, Lucas was to call 911 and report the problem.
Lucas said Zillow told him the person had been banned from posting future ads on his site.
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