Scammers turning San Francisco listings into fake rentals

Tight inventories mean demand for rental homes and apartments in the San Francisco Bay Area is greater than supply — creating a ripe environment for scammers to use listings portals like Trulia, Zillow and HotPads to turn real for-sale listings into fake rental units, NBC Bay Area reports.

The station documented one instance where a would-be renter who thought she’d  found a single-family home in San Jose for $1,200 a month on Trulia, only to find out somebody was trying to scam her when she called the number on the for-sale sign on the lawn.

Trulia and Zillow told the station they have measures in place to thwart such fraud — Trulia employs a dedicated team of people, and uses an algorithm to detect and remove fake listings — but would not provide numbers on how big the problem is.

MLSListings President and CEO Jim Harrison said that scammers have been scraping and reposting listings for several years, but have added a new twist — asking victims not only for deposit money, but personal information. Harrison said MLSListings has information on about 4,000 listings, down from 18,000 in normal conditions. Source: