How To Spot Fraudulent Posts

Identity thieves have increased their presence in the housing and rental markets making it even more important for potential homebuyers and renters to do due their diligence and know the warning signs of a scam.

The housing bubble caused many homes to be pushed into foreclosure and the owners into the rental market, and scammers are using a myriad of ways to steal personal information and money from unsuspecting victims. According to Raul Vargas, fraud operations manager for Identity Theft 911, many of the scams are occurring online.

Vargas explains that many of the scams involve an online post about an available property to rent and when someone is interested, the scammer sends a rental or lease agreement that requires a plethora of personal information like birth date, Social Security number and current address. Some even ask for bank account information to verify eligibility. The unsuspecting renter ends up giving up the information hoping

Some scammers post bogus properties online and target renters moving from another city or state.  “Everyone renting looks online to find a great price,” and the scammers know that, says Steve Weisman, a college professor at Bentley University and author of 50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age. Typically the fraudster will list a rental online with a market price far lower than others in the area. The listing will have a real address and photographs and the renter will be asked to either wire a deposit or send a money order to hold the rental. “The renter doesn’t get to see the place and the next thing they know they don’t have a place,” says Weisman. “It’s very easy to copy a listing and put up a phony one.”

Scam go both ways: People with a property to rent can also become victims. Weisman cites a popular scam that involves someone living outside the country agreeing to move into a rental unit sight unseen. The “renter” will even send a deposit of six months rent to ease any fear. A few weeks later, the scammer will call to back out of the agreement and tell the landlord to keep two months of the rent for the trouble and send the rest back.  The landlord cashes the check, sends the money back and a week later the check bounces. “Even though you waited a few days for the check to clear the bank doesn’t tell you that it’s only provisional credit. The bank takes back the money when the check truly does bounce,” says Weisman.

While scammers have become more sophisticated, renters and landlords can stay one step ahead.  Being aware of some red flags will prevent them from losing any money or sacrifice personal. According to Vargas, if the person asks for personal information via the Internet and/or asks you to send money via a money order or a wire transfer ,which isn’t easily traceable, should all serve as red flags. He also recommends never sharing personal information without meeting someone and checking their credentials.

Experts suggest out-of-town movers to work with a licensed agent to find a place to live. To verify if an online posting is legitimate, Weisman recommends searching the address and if it turns up on multiple sites with different names, there’s a strong change the listing is a scam listing. The tax assessor’s office can provide the homeowner’s name of the particular property and many of the offices have websites making it easier for renters to check public information. “Be wary if the place is dramatically priced less than others and always check out who the real owner is,” says Weisman.

Buying after a Short Sale or Foreclosure

In this informative video, Aladin tells us the various waiting periods for purchasing a home after going through a foreclosure or short sale. Some of these facts may surprise you!

If you have gone through a foreclosure or short sale in recent years and would like more information about your options, please contact us!

What’s Up With the Housing Market?

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (MarketWatch) — As the U.S. economy rounds the Labor Day turn, it appears that, after several false starts, the long-depressed housing market is finally climbing out of the basement.

It is nothing more mysterious than supply and demand. For the first time in a number of years, the supply of both new and used homes available for sale has dropped below demand.

No matter what the product or service, whenever demand exceeds supply, rising prices are sure to follow. Housing is no exception. Prices are rising both quarter-to-quarter and year-over-year for the first time in two years.

This turnaround in prices is apparently convincing would-be homebuyers that it does not pay to delay — especially since mortgage interest rates are at 60-year lows, and homes are the most affordable they have been in at least a quarter of a century.

As a result, buyers have begun to deal. Home sales are up more than 20% from a year ago, while pending sales are now at a 2-1/2-year high. This should kick home prices even higher, and thus spur even more buying.

In a market such as the one housing has just been through, rising prices are a good thing.

First of all, they will help those homeowners who are underwater — that is, those who owe more on their mortgage than their house would fetch were they to try to sell it.

Second, higher home prices make homeowners feel wealthier. When this happens, people are more willing to spend. As you can imagine, this gives a lift to a whole bunch of industries that depend on consumer spending.

Rising prices also encourage fence-sitters to bid on the house of their choice. Finally, seeing this action, potential sellers may well be tempted to put their homes on the market, thus making it more liquid and permitting easier comparisons with other homes.

As inventories of new homes begin to dwindle, construction will perk up. Already, builder confidence in August rose more than expected and now sits at a five-year high.

Naturally, this means more jobs for those in the construction trades, with the resulting ripple effect on materials and supplies.

And as people move into these homes, there is more demand for furniture, home appliances and motor vehicles, as well as other consumer goods and services.

This sequence of events has been part and parcel of every business-cycle recovery in the postwar period, and this one will be no exception — when it kicks in. For you see, politics is affecting the housing market, too.

Since there is a great deal of uncertainty over taxes and regulations post-Dec. 31, buyers, sellers and builders will want to be certain that mortgage interest and property taxes remain deductible so they can accurately determine affordability and thus how much to bid or ask.

Because of the elections and partisan politics, the fate of these items will not be known until well into next year — if then. Obviously, it all depends on who is elected president, which party controls Congress and how willing they are to work together.

Chalk up another speed bump that lies in the path of this fragile recovery.

Irwin Kellner is MarketWatch’s chief economist.

Click here for the complete article.

Create a Home Oasis with the APS Shade Tree Program

Did you know that if you are an APS customer, they will give you a minimum of two shade trees at no cost to you?  Planting shade trees in your yard can save you up to $50 per year on your energy bill by blocking the sun’s rays and reducing your cooling needs. The APS Shade Tree program provides free shade tree workshops and free trees to help you maximize your energy savings.

APS is committed to providing customer programs that promote energy efficiency. Well placed shade trees can reduce your cooling needs by up to 10% by blocking the sun’s rays. In fact, shaded walls can be 9° to 36° cooler at peak times. In addition to energy savings, shade trees also add value to your property, produce oxygen to help clean the air, capture rainwater, provide a wildlife habitat and reduce storm water runoff.

This is just one of many Green Choice programs that APS offers designed to reduce your energy costs and environmental impact.  For more information, visit their site HERE.

The Aladin Group’s New Blog Series

The Aladin Group has come out with a new youtube blog series called “5 Things Your Realtor CAN’T Tell You!” Subscribe to their channel HERE! Check out Part 1 of 5 below! Enjoy!

This series will be very helpful for prospective buyers! There are some great questions that need to be asked but Realtors can’t legally or morally give the answers to.

Realty Executives files for Bankruptcy

Aladin Abdin discusses the effects of Realty Executives Bankruptcy on our clients. If you have any questions, comment below, comment on the youtube video , comment on Facebook or emailing! Enjoy!

The Big Bad Scary Landlord… or Are They?

You’ve been hearing it for years now. Talk about the economy’s inadequacy. After the housing market went, there was little hope for many of the other markets. The biggest concern is that when the economy is down, so are alot of people’s bank account balances. So what does this mean for you?

People have become increasingly desperate to keep their bank account balances up and be able to afford their lifestyles, whether that lifestyle includes drug use or just feeding their families and keeping them clothed. Scams have been on the rise and the people behind them are very creative.

Tammy was looking for a house to rent and was looking on craigslist and other classified ads. She found a beautiful looking home with her exact search criteria, in the perfect location AND it was at such a great price! She called the number and got in contact with Greg, who agreed to meet her at the property and trade the rent for the keys to the house. Sure enough, Tammy arrived at the house and Greg was there. He showed her inside the vacant house and Tammy loved the home. Greg said “You seem like such a nice woman — let’s not worry about writing up a lease agreement or credit report. I trust you.” Since Tammy’s credit was extremely low, she accepted immediately and handed Greg the $2,000 for rent and security deposit and he handed her the keys. Everything went so smoothly! But then something very odd happened. Greg took off with the money. Tammy thought this was very strange and called the number on the real estate sign posted in the front yard. “This home isn’t for rent,” the lady on the line explained, “it’s under contract to be sold as we speak!”

Greg, whos name probably wasn’t even Greg, knew this home was bank owned. He also knew the construction lock box code and accessed the key with no problem. So where did Tammy go wrong?

Some people swear against these classified ads and stay far away, but there are other, less extreme precautions to pick out if the rental property is a scam or not. 

1. Don’t give cash or wire money - Criminals don’t want you to be able to trace it back to them, so cold hard cash, being the most liquid of assets is usually what they ask for. The same goes for money orders. Don’t stop there!  You also want to avoid giving checks to someone who may be hustling bank account and routing numbers. Counterfeiters can print their own checks using your bank numbers and signature, then spend from your account. That’s why a combination of safeguards is necessary. Checks are safer than cash, but read on to ensure you’re giving those checks to legitimate landlords.

2. Research what the price really should be - If the rate is too good to be true, it probably is and if you aren’t working with a realtor to find your rental home, it isn’t as hard to check as you may think! Check out websites like rentBits, which will help guide you on pricing.  

3. Ask yourself, ‘Why is this owner so eager to have me?’ – Legitimate property owners and managers take the time to ask questions and screen potential tenants. They can’t risk renting to someone who might cause damage or fall behind on payments. Expect that they may take a small fee ($15-$35) with your application to pay for a background screening, or a deposit in the form of a cashier’s check to hold the apartment if they need to take it off the market for a day. Most will not even accept cash, saying they don’t want to risk holding cash. A cashier’s check at least requires identification to cash and can be traced.

A scam artist, on the other hand will often be eager to close the deal with cash on the spot, and may very well have a good story to tell about why he is in such a hurry: He is moving for a job; others have expressed an interest. Don’t fall for it.

4. Pay attention to any odd behavior

In Florida recently, a scam artist who appeared legitimate in every other way: she had business cards, contracts, key codes, a professional demeanor displayed one piece of odd behavior that alone should have tipped off her victims, police said: She parked her car around the corner and walked to the house, explaining that she’d been showing a nearby house.

Legitimate listing agents “don’t come walking up with a clipboard in their hand,” said Lee, the police investigator. They pull into the driveway.

“Just be aware,” he said. “Get a tag number off a vehicle. If a person walks up, like this one, from two blocks away, that should be a clue.”

“Do they have a set of keys? Are they entering through the back door? Just how they’re acting? Does the story make sense?” said Jesse Holland, a regional vice president for the Institute of Real Estate Management.

Just because a few things check out doesn’t make them legitimate. Like in our story, Tammy received the keys. Everything seemed more than fine. Observe their behavior, and trust your gut if something seems odd.

5. Collect documents – Ask for copies of everything: checks, money orders, the application, receipts, the lease.

“You want to create an audit trail and a paper trail to protect yourself,” said Holland, who also serves as president of Sunrise Management and Consulting, in upstate New York. “That proves that you are entitled to rent it and have gone through a legitimate process, as opposed to, ‘You give me $700 cash.’”

Be aware that a savvy scam artist can easily create his own documents using samples from the Web. So paperwork by itself is not enough to protect you. However, should another sign tip you off, your papers could help authorities prosecute the con artist.


We hope that none of you are caught in these messy scams. For more information, check online on websites such as or


Written by: Danielle Zampino