PITTSBURGH — A Lawrenceville homeowner says she noticed people checking her house a few days ago. Then she received a call from a real estate agent who asked her about her house for sale. But there’s a big problem, it’s not for sale.
“My mind raced to know what’s really going on here,” Jillian Boldin said.
Jillian Boldin started asking questions.
“I asked, ‘where did you find this list?’ Boldin said. “’What do you see here?’ And she pointed me to Zillow.
Channel 11 posted this listing showing Boldin’s house. It had been up for three days with over 500 views before Zillow took it down.
“That’s basically the list we saw in 2017,” Boldin said. “And the price of the house is very similar to 2017. Of course the area has gone up in value. What it’s shown for is a real flight to the Lawrenceville area, but of course it’s fictional.
Boldin reported it to Zillow. She filed a complaint with the police. She also called the real estate agent she bought the house with.
“Generally we see those who have rentals,” said Joe Pegher, real estate agent for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “You list a house. Upload the photos. And then someone grabs the pictures and pretends it’s for rent with the idea of asking someone to post a deposit. I haven’t seen one like this for sale.
A number is listed in the Overview section. Pegher says he called him.
“No answer to my phone call,” Pegher said. “I left a message. No answer.”
Boldin called the same number and someone answered.
Download the FREE WPXI News App for the latest news alerts.
“I spoke with someone who was a little short with me and kind of got into texting,” Boldin said. “So from there, I started getting these text messages encouraging me to have more conversations through Messenger.”
“It sounded like it was a stranger trying to trick someone into giving personal information or a deposit like they do with rentals.”
Channel 11’s Alyssa Raymond also called the number. He went to voicemail. She left a message and was immediately called back. The woman on the other end told Alyssa she would put her in touch with the landlord and also wanted to continue via text. The woman also asked Alyssa if she was with a lawyer or with a real estate agency. When Alyssa told the woman she was with Channel 11, the woman hung up.
“I stopped investigating and left it to the authorities at that time,” Boldin said. “But what I’ve heard is that a lot of these situations end up asking for a deposit, which led me to reach out to the community on NextDoor. I just wanted to let others know. Once I learned that I was not the target, I wanted to make sure the message got out so that other people looking to live in the Lawrenceville neighborhood weren’t taken advantage of.
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services President Dennis Cestra says this program has been around for years, but what they’re seeing a lot more right now is people trying to sell vacant land they don’t own. .
The best thing to do is to use local agents and check listings on local websites or at least come across them.
After going through that experience, Boldin suggests claiming your home on sites like Zillow.
“That way someone can’t impersonate you and act like they’re selling your property,” Boldin said. “Beyond that, if you’re looking to buy a home or rent, make sure you do your homework and know that you’re not dealing with someone doing fraudulent activity.”
In a statement, a Zillow spokesperson said:
“Zillow strives to provide a secure online platform, and we strive to monitor activity and fully educate our users about the risks of internet scams and how to protect themselves. Our teams monitor the activity on the site in many different ways, actively looking for possible scams and preventing them from being published, and if an ad is found to be fraudulent, it is removed from our site as quickly as possible.Beware of scams and other Internet fraud‘ provides valuable information for internet users on how to avoid scams, including looking for red flags such as wire transfer requests and long distance enquiries.
©2022 Cox Media Group