GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – If you’re in the market for a new place to live, you could be a target for scammers. At least three people have reported to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office in the past few days that they’ve been victims of a scam involving real estate listed for sale or rent online.
Victims find a property online in which they’re interested– they then check it out in person, and wire a deposit to a person claiming to be a realtor. In some cases, the fake realtor identified themselves to targets as “Mr. Gallo.” They provided correct codes to lockboxes at properties, so potential buyers or renters thought they were legitimate.
Those targets then wired thousands of dollars for deposits, only to learn they’d be cheated. Investigators are trying to figure out how the scammer or scammers got those lockbox codes.
According to the real estate website Zillow, you should never wire money to someone you have not met in person and should never give your information to anyone unless you’ve verified that they can be trusted.
“A lot of times these people are coming in from overseas, and so we’re doing everything we can to try to identify who this person or persons are,” said Lt. Ryan Flood with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. “We just want people to be wary of this, so that there’s no other potential victims.”
The listings in question have since been removed from Zillow, and the user has been banned.
A spokesperson from Zillow said, “Zillow goes to great lengths to police activity and fully inform our users of the existence of scams and how to protect themselves. Our customer support team monitors activity on the site in a number of different ways and if a listing is found to be fraudulent, it is removed from Zillow.”
Zillow has more information on how to protect yourself from scammers here.