CHANDLER, AZ — A home is a major investment, but for Ahmed Saber, it’s also a way to help his business grow.
Excited and curious about his Chandler property, Saber checked comps on Zillow, an online real estate database.
He got a big surprise.
“I saw a picture of the house that looked exactly like mine. I looked closer and it turned out to be my house that somebody created an ad for,” Saber said.
A scammer created an ad listing Saber’s home for rent. The ad even had Saber’s name as the contact, but the number listed wasn’t his.
“Somebody out there is communicating with people who want to rent this house and collecting their personal information, and potentially collecting money from them for a house that doesn’t belong to them. They’re just pretending to be me,” said Saber.
A lot of property information is public record through the county. That means even people who were cautious and searched the property would see Saber’s name come up; making the ad look legitimate.
Some hopeful renters even stopped by the house in person.
“We were outside bringing some stuff into the house, and somebody pulled over and was inquiring about the house… if it was still available,” Saber recalled.
To warn others, he put up signs around his home stating the property is not available to rent and any listing for a rental is a scam. Saber says he reached out to Zillow, but when he didn’t get a response, he reached out to us.
The Let Joe Know team contacted Zillow. The company removed the listing within hours.
A Zillow spokesperson emailed this statement:
“Zillow strives to provide a safe online platform, and we go to great lengths to monitor activity and fully inform our users of the risks of scams on the internet and how to protect themselves. Our teams monitor activity on the site in several different ways, actively screening for possible fraud or scams and preventing them from getting posted. If a listing is found to be fraudulent, it is removed from our site as quickly as possible. Our ‘How to Recognize and Avoid Rental Fraud‘ page and ‘Beware of Scams and Other Internet Fraud’ page explain how to look out for red flags such as requests for wire transfers or long-distance inquiries and provide other valuable information about how to avoid bad actors in the housing market.”
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