With everything that could go wrong in Real Estate, this problem should not happen, but exists in many other businesses. This problem should have the easiest solution but shows how criminals twist laws to their advantage.
The Wisconsin Realtor’s Association has been releasing articles about the advantages of advertising on the local Craigslist. As a concerned Real Estate Agent, I concentrate on using all the available tools to sell a client’s home as quickly as possible. I use a number of proven Internet web sites, one of which used to be Craigslist to sell Real Estate. I decided I had to end my association with Craigslist for one simple reason. Their lack of concern put me and my clients in a dangerous position.
Scams are prevalent on Craigslist. In this case, I advertised a listing of a home for sale on the local Craigslist site in Milwaukee. It didn’t take long before I began receiving phone calls, asking me information about renting the home. I explained the house was for sale and occupied by the seller. Callers would tell me they suspected a scam, then told me about another ad they saw on Craigslist.
I located the ad and attempted to alert Craigslist of the scam. Someone from a different country known for scams copied pictures and descriptions from my ad of the homes for sale, and posted it as a rental for only $300 a month. Most people called me from the yard sign, but a few were so excited they instantly wired money to a foreign country. In each case it was much more than $300. The scammer told them to knock on the door for the keys, or to call me. In some instances the victims wired thousands and were told I would refund the remainder.
This put myself and my clients in a very dangerous position. I called the FBI and National Association of Realtors to report the scam. Both contacted Craigslist and were told they refuse to do anything about the scams. The National Association of Realtors attorney called Craigslist only to be informed they had been through this many times and claiming freedom of speech protected them.
This is an example of poor communication. The NAR was aware of a problem and failed to alert its members and the public. Freedom of speech should be allowed to work in both directions, along with responsibility and ethics.