It has come to our attention that various Internet solicitations have appeared with increased frequency on such posting boards as Craigslist and other social networking sites encouraging consumers to deposit escrow funds to secure an interest in property located in Costa Rica via payment through Western Union payable to what appears to be a legitimate, reputable real estate company with name recognition. (Such as Remax, Century21, etc…)
We have contacted the real estate companies and none of them are in any way associated with this type of solicitation. In fact we have learned that this is another scam being perpetrated on unwary consumers and is currently being investigated by law enforcement.
Additionally, we have been made aware of an Advance Fee Scam involving the unauthorized use of a brand name such as the ones mentioned above, using a website and email address utilizing the name of the nationally known real estate company.
The Advanced Fee Scam goes something like this; the scammer lures the victim (e.g., a prospective buyer) by posting an offer of a high-standard piece of property for low cost, even showing pictures of the property. The scammer uses online classified ad services such as craigslist to post such offers. The victim is told that the seller is “travelling,”
Here are some tips to help you avoid such scams:
- KNOW THE PERSON YOU ARE SENDING MONEY TO – if you receive an email from a real estate agent with payment instructions, call the requesting office using the phone number located on the solicitation. Then call us (321-218-
9209 or visit http://www.codylgearandassociates.com ) to verify if this is a legitimate real estate company operating here in Costa Rica
- CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions or provide escrow services.
- USE CAUTION WHEN GIVING OUT FINANCIAL AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION VIA EMAIL (bank account number, credit card number, social security number, etc.)
- AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL “GUARANTEE” YOUR TRANSACTION
- These types of scams often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before withdrawing your money – this is FALSE, once you’ve wired money, it is GONE.
- PROPERTY LISTING MAY BE LOCAL, but landlord/owner is “travelling” or “relocating” and needs you to wire money to them abroad.
Most scams involve one or more of the following:
- Inquiry from someone far away, often in another country;
- Western Union, Money Gram, cashier’s check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a “guarantee.”
- Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consummating transaction.
Who should you notify about fraud or scam attempts?
• FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
• FTC online complaint form (http://www.ftc.gov)
• Canadian Phone Busters hotline: 888-495-8501
• Internet Fraud Complaint Center (http://www.ic3.gov)
• Non-emergency number for your local police department.
• The government agency in your country responsible for dealing with fraud
From PR Log