Police: Craigslist scammers target new home buyers
LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Lansing Police are warning of a new housing scam is going on. Officials say they’ve seen several cases where someone tries to buy a house on Craigslist only to find the person who sold it to them wasn’t the real owner.
It’s a home-buyer’s worst nightmare, spending thousands of dollars on a home only to find they’ve been scammed.
Lansing Police say they’ve been seeing cases like this pop up with criminals using Craigslist to cash in.
“They actually met with a person and thought they were purchasing a house. This was a vacant piece of property and it turns out they got scammed by his person,” said Robert Merritt, Lansing Police Department.
They say these criminals make the sale seem legitimate by showing buyers a fraudulent deed, but in reality the home belongs to someone else.
But there are ways to spot a fraudulent deed and criminals before you buy.
“Get some legal advice to make sure that the forms and everything that they’re talking about or that they are offering you is legal and legit,” said Derrick Quinney, register of deeds, Ingham County.
“Verify who they are, are they actually an independent person who owns this house if so, ask for their ID, show their ID confirm it with the paperwork that you’ve looked up,” said Robert Merritt, Lansing Police Department.
You can also check to see who is paying the taxes on the house.
Police are investigating the scams but say be aware. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The county does offer free legal advice if you need someone to check a deed before you buy.
And if you’re not buying, but want to make sure someone isn’t using your address for an ad on Craigslist, you can sign up for the Ingham County Register of Deeds Fraud Alert System.