Online dating is booming. What does this mean? Among other things, it means that online dating scams are also booming. According to Match.com there are roughly 40 million online-dating-sites users which make up a market of about $1.9 billion. This is a massive market that has already doubled since 2007 and will only continue to grow. It is no surprise that the scam artists of the world are flocking to dating sites. If you’re one of the 54 million singles in the U.S. that is looking to try online dating, WeGoLook would like to provide you with some tips so you can protect yourself from dating frauds.
The stories and tactics that the fraudsters use are constantly changing and there are thousands of different scams. Although, you have probably already heard the most popular stories like the Nigerian prince and the high-ranking army general looking for love. Instead we’re just going to point out some things you can look for that should raise red flags.
A disclaimer should be given first: the following aren’t necessarily guarantees that the individual is a fraud; it just means they most likely are. WeGoLook is not responsible for true love lost.
If your sweetheart:
Wants to immediately leave the dating site and use personal email or chat to continue talking. There is usually an ulterior motive for someone wanting to immediately move to various forms of communication. They could also be trying to steal personal information from you.
Isn’t available to talk on the phone. While sometimes it may be difficult to pick frauds out when communicating through a service like email, dialing them and talking to them on the phone may easily reveal them as a fraud.
Claims to be from the U.S. but is overseas. While this is possible, keeping the relationship local drastically reduces your chances of being scammed, or at least drastically increases the chances of catching the fraud. Not to mention, what is a relationship if you can’t see the person or aren’t going to be able to see the person for years at a time?
Has broken English, sentences don’t make sense or uses poor grammar. This would occur when an individual uses a translation service. It is not uncommon for people to use poor grammar online; unfortunately it’s all too commonplace. If you get the trifecta[MA1] , it should shoot up a red flag.
Here goes the cliché; has a photo that looks they are out of a GQ photo-shoot or from a Miss USA competition. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Every time they are planning to visit, they are prevented by some emergency or other excuse. If this happens over and over again, chances are you have fallen for a scam.
Now here are some things you can do to protect yourself:
Use search engines. Google is a wonderful tool; you would be amazed as to how much you can find out about a person from Google. So Google them.
Check third party sites like romancescams.org. There is likelihood that if they are scamming you, they have scammed others. If they have scammed others, there is a good chance someone posted them for others to see.
Be cautious of military personnel. The reason is because scam artists have no heart and understand that people (in general) are more trustworthy of those in uniform. Just be weary of claims for active duty military overseas somewhere.
Lastly, NEVER send anyone money for any reason. Don’t entertain any sob stories that make you feel obligated to send an individual cash, wire transfers, or money orders. Don’t listen to anyone claiming there is an emergency. They are all lies.
You should always report suspicious behavior to either the website hosting the profile, a third party site like romancescams.org or to one of the various government websites like the Federal Trade Commission or the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Recently, WeGoLook’s very own Robin Smith had the opportunity to “sit” down with TechJumble to answer some questions and tell them a little bit about WeGoLook and WeGoLook’s past, present and future. TechJumble.com is a fantastic blog that brings both brand new and established technological creations to light. They use their network of inside connections keep the world up-to-date with all things tech. Check out some of the interview below:
TechJumble: Can you tell us a bit about WeGoLook and what made you actually take the plunge to really go ahead with it?
Robin: Our pleasure, thanks for the opportunity! The concept of WeGoLook began when our co-founder, Mark Caywood, was considering a high-end electronic purchase on eBay. However, Mark was concerned the seller was misrepresenting the item (not intentionally) and voiced his concern in conversation – we thought he needed to send someone to “Go Look” at the item but realized there was no service like this offered. We jokingly said, “We should offer these services” but quickly began building a business model which would support online consumers who needed a person to operate on their behalf. Once we began brainstorming…well…let’s just say, “The many ways WeGoLook “Lookers” can assist a customer by being their eyes and boots-on-the-ground are endless.”
TechJumble: So what are your next plans? Are you on the offense or defense?
Robin: I definitely see an enormous global market opportunity in multiple industries for the individual consumer and corporate business owner.
TechJumble: The opportunities for expansion are indeed endless! Now even though you have big plans for the future, what has been the most rewarding experience so far in the journey?
Robin: I believe the most rewarding experience is just knowing that I have trudged, pushed, and continued to not give up and am now seeing the rewards – we recently received three large contracts: Proxibid, Escrow.com, and Assetbuyer.com. I’m still waiting on eBay and craigslist – lol.
TechJumble: Congratulations! I’m sure they’ll be in touch soon; the demand is clearly there for such an innovative service. So on the flip-side, what do you feel has been your biggest mistake or regret so far with WeGoLook and what have you taken away from it in terms of learnings?
Robin: I think it is not possible to say one mistake has been larger than another – as I have made several BIG ones – ha ha! But, if I could go back in time…
Mistake #1: Hiring the wrong developers to create the platform – I learned that I believe what developers and technical tell me because I don’t understand the language/process and it was a very costly endeavor which did not produce what we asked for.
Mistake #2: Believing that the media world would go, “Wow – this is an awesome service which enables online consumers to protect their pocketbook and anyone purchasing an item online should use it.” I have learned that it would have been very helpful to have a multi-million dollar ad campaign budget but we settle for guerrilla tactics which I’m sure could be improved!
Mistake #3: Believing that eBay and craigslist would go, “Wow – this solves our fraudulent and fake listing issues and protects our customers…MUST USE!” – I have learned that large corporations (not necessarily referring to those two) really don’t care about their consumer’s safety or product representation – their business models are based on generating revenue from sources other than our affiliate revenue share.
I will say that I love to make big mistakes because it helps me avoid making big mistakes again — I try to always learn from them.
TechJumble: Brilliant list and I think a lot of the points you raise are more than common. Many start-up founders have fantastic ideas but not necessarily the technical knowledge behind it to actually build the idea into a concept – and of course, the other way around, knowing how to build from a technical standpoint but not having the skills to actually get it out there and market it. It shows how beneficial partnering up can be – filling the missing gaps.
TechJumble: So who has been your main source of inspiration through all of this?
Robin: This is a hard one…I have been inspired mostly by my family – My grandmother left Oklahoma and moved to Old Mexico to attend college and received her degree in San Miguel de Allende at a time when women didn’t attend college, much less move out-of-the country by themselves to do it. She is fiercely independent and a huge supporter. My grandfather and his brothers/sisters were incredible role models – one of the first pilots to fly the Concord, a politician who passed legislation benefitting the environment and agriculture, Veterans of WWII – very inspiring family members to grow up around. I am inspired by my two sons daily – to show them that hard work, belief in your ideas and persistence can pay off…and lastly…Thabo Sefolosha of the Oklahoma City Thunder – he is quite possibly the best defensive player I’ve ever seen! Thabo is not well known but can shut down players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (I equate WeGoLook to Thabo as he is not well known but can play and surpass the “big guys”- he never, ever gives up and always plays 110%)
TechJumble: Well I think it’s safe to say your passion shines through BRIGHTLY! We also see an equally bright future for WeGoLook, you’ve done a great job so far and the concept is easy to truly believe in, knowing how many problems can be avoided with such a service as the one you have created!
Just click the link to check out the interview in its entirety: http://techjumble.com/2012/06/22/wegolook-so-you-dont-have-to/
Go Thunder!!! Tonight is game 4 for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The game comes on at 8:00pm CST this evening. Now, I know it has been a while since our last post (I know our loyal followers are starving for WeGoLook updates and stories, and they are sure to come, I promise) and regardless of the outcome of the game tonight, there will be a great story coming in the following day(s).
Please review and forward the below alerts to increase awareness of criminal activity and forewarn potential victims.
Ohio Deere Backhoe, Trailer Theft – A John Deere 110 Backhoe and Trailer were stolen from the Gallia Rural Water site late last month.
El Paso Backhoe Stolen – Thieves took a John Deere 310-G from the Camino Real Middle School last weekend.
NEDA Pennsylvania Tractor Theft – Northeast Equipment Dealers Association (ne-equip.com) reports a Pennsylvania member dealership suffered the theft of a New Holland Tractor. The alert includes a picture of the actual stolen machine.
Oklahoma Fuel Truck Theft – A field service truck was stolen from a site near Sawyer, Choctaw County.
Florida Landscaper Yard Burglary – Two trucks and trailers loaded with landscape maintenance equipment were stolen from a yard in Fort Pierce. One rig was found abandoned empty in Miami – could the other turn up in your area?
Did you suffer a theft, or did thefts occur in your jurisdiction over the Memorial Day holiday? NER encourages Law Enforcement and theft victims to report thefts to NER at www.ner.net, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
By David C. Wyld Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University
There is a common thread for all of the Craigslist rental scams. In all of these instances, the would-be renter is ripped-off by a scammer using a fake Craigslist listing of a house or apartment for rent – often at a rate far below market to lure their attention (often at half or more of what the “market rate” would be for a like rental home, condominium, or apartment).. The ad looks quite legitimate – all the more because the photos of the home are likely taken from a “real” real estate listing for the home. Often, to make the potential renter believe that they are dealing with the “real” property owner, the scammer will use the legitimate owner’s name in their email correspondence and phone conversations. The perpetrator of the fraud will also have a seemingly valid reason why they have left the area – or most often the country and cannot personally meet the would-be renter. Reported cases involve everything from missionary and military service to needing to reunite with family abroad. The fraudster’s goal is to abscond with the renter’s security deposit and possibly even take rent in advance for the fake rental property listed on Craigslist. Beyond that however is an even bigger threat – identity theft. Recently, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin specifically warned the public regarding scams involving such fake rental listings on Craigslist: “Scam artists are posting fake rental properties on Craigslist, luring people to provide personal information – including social security numbers and bank routing and credit card numbers – on false rental agreements.” Ostensibly, the would-be renter is told that the information is necessary to perform a background check to process their rental application. However, the scammer’s real intent is to gain access to the renter’s sensitive information, in order to commit identity fraud with the personal and financial account information the unwitting would-be renter is providing.
Thus, the potential losses from such rental fraud on Craigslist often can go far beyond the loss of a security deposit and possibly first/last month’s rent. When the specter of ID fraud is included, the losses from such fraudulent activity on Craigslist skyrocket. And it must be remembered that as with all instances of Internet fraud, those cases that are actually reported to authorities are but the “tip of the iceberg, so the problem is likely far greater than what can be documented through the reported statistics. The creativity of fraud perpetrators is truly amazing. In the following sections, we detail just a representative slice of the Craigslist rental frauds that are taking place every day around the country.
Dora Betts, who is a realtor in Waco, Texas was surprised to find a home that she had listed for sale as being listed as available to rent on Craigslist by a scammer who had taken the information and photos from her legitimate listing and replicated it on the site. It took Ms. Betts several inquiries and complaints to Craigslist before the site took down the listing, even with her proof that the rental listing was fake (Kenney, 2012). Likewise, in Duluth, Minnesota, Realtor Bruce Lurye was surprised when he posted a legitimate home sale listing for a property that was currently being rented for $1300/month on a Friday, only to learn from a would-be renter that the same house was listed on Craigslist on the following Monday for $800/month. The inquiry to the “real” realtor handling the property saved the potential renter from being scammed, and highlighted the problem of Craigslist rental fraud to Mr. Lurye and others in the Duluth area. As Duluth Police Department Investigator Shana Greene commented, “We’re Minnesota nice but we have to realize that when we are out on the Internet, we don’t know what we’re dealing with.” What’s worse is with the fraudster most often being overseas, the authorities have very little power to stop such scams or recover lost monies. As Ms. Greene remarked, “Any crime that happens outside the United States, there’s not a lot the police departments can do.” (quoted in Rusch, 2012, n.p.).
SIDEBAR: Warning Signs That a Craigslist Rental Listing is Actually a Scam
Scammers will use realtors’ multiple listing services to find properties that are legitimately for rent or sale. They take the information, change the contact information and offer a much lower price than the original listing. Oftentimes, scammers will offer a telephone number without a functioning voicemail setup, causing the potential renter to contact them via email. Scammers’ emails are typically poorly written and may indicate the “owner” is on a humanitarian mission in another country. Emails typically ask for a deposit to be wired in exchange for a key to the house.
Source: State of New York, Office of the Attorney General (2012).
Actually seeing the property in person – and even moving in – is no guarantee that the house you rented off Craigslist is being legitimately rented to you. In fact, in several recent cases from the Orlando-Sanford, Florida area, families had actually moved into and lived for several weeks in homes that had been foreclosed upon and were sitting vacant. The fraudulent landlords had simply broken into the idle properties, replacing the locks with their own and posting the homes on Craigslist for rent. The homes were then shown to prospective tenants, who had seen the properties listed on Craigslist and followed-up – even paying security deposits and first month’s rent – to the scammers. Eventually, the banking interests who actually “owned” the distressed properties discovered that they were occupied and evicted the families, who were left with no recourse for their losses, other than the fact that in this case, the Craigslist scammers were indeed caught by Florida authorities (Wilson, 2012). Likewise, in Columbus, Ohio, a young couple became suspicious of the “landlord” they had met to tour a vacant home from a Craigslist ad. After giving the man $250 for a deposit on the property, the couple called the realtor listed on the real estate sign and were informed they had been scammed. The bogus landlord, of course, was unreachable, and that deposit money was gone (Weiker, 2012).
Military members and their families are particularly susceptible to being victims of Craigslist rental scams, due to the fact that they often have to quickly – and remotely – find a place to live near their next base assignment. An example of this is the situation around Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas, where recently half a dozen servicemen and women and their families have been victimized in a series of Craigslist rental scams. In each of the cases, the Army soldiers wired security deposits and first month’s rent to the scammer via Western Union, losing $1500 on average. Local real estate manager Andrew Mills commented on the sophisticated nature of the fraud operators, stating: “”Someone is taking pictures from Craigslist from our listed properties for rent, and putting their own price and name on there. In some cases they’re using the actual owners name and renting the properties or trying to rent the properties. It’s very professional in that they have the emails down pat, the addresses, the names, so when you do your background check using a county tax record you’ll see the same name that’s attached to the house” (quoted in Cheng, 2012, n.p.). So, the would-be renter, even after doing their due diligence, would appear to be entering a valid rental agreement. However, as Army Specialist Mary Ray put it quite bluntly: “I think we all work too hard for some scumbag to just come scam us out of our money because he has nothing else better to do” (quoted in Cheng, 2012, n.p.). Yet, this is not an isolated instance by any means, as military-affiliated renters have been targeted all across the country, from airmen and women seeking to rent near the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota (Ogden, 2012) to naval families near Naval Base Kitsap in Washington State (Farley, 2012) to Army families near Fort Drum in New York (State of New York, Office of the Attorney General (2012). Preying upon a stressed, under-paid service member and their family in such a manner has been characterized quite succinctly by Kate Bode, who is a property manager with Details Property Management outside the Kitsap, Washington naval facility: “This (the Craigslist scam threat) has added a level of stress that’s not necessary. And it’s evil.” (quoted in Farley, 2012, n.p.).
Vacation Property Rentals
While rental fraud is a year-round problem, the summer travel season only ramps things up for fraudsters on Craigslist, due to so many individuals and families looking for summer rentals for their vacation plans. The scammers preying upon those looking for vacation rentals on Craigslist can be especially creative. For instance, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Lourdes Spurlock wanted to surprise her husband with a weekend beach getaway. She found a cottage to rent on Craigslist and wired the landlord $600. However, the couple was stunned when they knocked on the door of the home to find it occupied, and the home-owner was just as surprised to find-out his property had been listed on Craigslist. Needless to say, the Spurlocks were out their rental fee, as the scammer was nowhere to be found. This came as no surprise however to the Virginia Beach authorities. As Tammy Beiderman with the Virginia Beach Police Department’s economic crimes unit characterized the situation: “There is so much fraud on Craigslist, you wouldn’t believe it. All day, every day. If you go on Craigslist and you look for a place to rent in Virginia Beach, you run into it all over” (quoted in Hulette, 2012, n.p.). Smarter Travel magazine specifically warned readers against using Craigslist for vacation rentals due to the rampant fraud in this area, directing them to reputable vacation property rental sites, including:
HomeAway (Morse, 2012).
What is Craigslist’s official position on such scams? Well, the company states that – like eBay – it is officially not a party to the transaction – taking a buyer, and seller, beware approach. In essence, it is a hands-off stance, true to the founder Craig Newmark’s philosophy of non-control over the site, but yet oddly out-of-touch with the needs of its users. From Craigslist’s website, the sidebar below presents the company’s advice to users in regards to avoiding scams.
SIDEBAR: Craigslist – Scams – Personal Safety Tips
You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules:
DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON – follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts on craigslist.
NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service – anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.
CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer ‘buyer protection’ or ‘seller certification’
NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL ‘GUARANTEE’ YOUR TRANSACTION.
DO NOT RENT HOUSING WITHOUT SEEING THE INTERIOR, OR PURCHASE EXPENSIVE ITEMS SIGHT-UNSEEN – in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.
DO NOT SUBMIT TO CREDIT CHECKS OR BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR A JOB OR FOR HOUSING UNTIL YOU HAVE MET THE INTERVIEWER OR LANDLORD/AGENT IN PERSON.
And all of this is especially concerning due to the fact that Craiglist has been aware for at least five years that its site has been the source of what are likely thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – of cases of rental-based fraud. For the firm to continue to take a “hands-off” position and maintain that it is not “involved” in any way with transactions originating from ads placed on its site is simply not an ethically defensible position. By allowing the fraudulent rental scam ads to continue to appear on its site alongside what are legitimate ads for rental property, Craigslist risks its reputation, and indeed its business model. This is because if the general public comes to believe that “all” or “the vast majority” of Craigslist ads for home, apartment, or vacation rentals are fraudulent – and to be avoided – then the online public – which is still a coveted demographic – may simply stop seeing Craigslist as a “go to” site when they want to buy and sell items, find a job, or even make personal connections. If one apple can spoil the entire bunch, a perception that one’s site is not trustworthy is tantamount to a disaster for any online company. Thus, Craigslist faces what are no doubt hard choices in this regard. The firm’s leadership must weigh the legal and marketing implications of whether to become more actively involved in transactions – perhaps vetting the parties and/or providing services/assistance – versus the value of maintaining the status quo and risking maintaining the laissez-faire – combined with caveat emptor – nature of the site in light of its social responsibilities and marketing concerns.
What are some simple steps you can take to prevent being scammed in a rental transaction originating on Craigslist? There are certainly some simple, “free” steps you should always take when looking at a potential rental property from the site.
Observe – If there is a real estate sign in front of the property, call the number listed to verify that the property is indeed for rent (at the price listed in the Craigslist ad) and that the individual you are in contact with is indeed representing the agency.
Validate Ownership – Check with the county/city to verify ownership of the house or other property. Note, if a property is bank-owned, it is highly unlikely to be made available as a rental.
Validate the Landlord’s ID – If you are able to see the property in person, ask to see the individual showing you the property his/her state-issued ID (i.e. driver’s license). If the individual is a con artist, they will most likely not do this. Note that a legitimate landlord will likely ask to see your ID as well, so if they do not, that can be another “red flag.” Along the same lines, it’s a good idea to take down the individual’s license plate number – just in case.
Payment – If you choose not to make use of an escrow service for the transaction (see next section), you should insist on paying with a personal check – even if it means waiting some time to gain access to the property while the check clears. You should beware anyone who demands a cash payment (in person) or a wire transfer (remotely) for a rental property.
Contract – Make sure and get a written lease for the property after verifying that the landlord is legitimate.
Likewise, the New York Attorney General’s Office has put together a very useful list of suggestions on how not to become a statistic in this area. These are detailed in the sidebar below.
SIDEBAR: The New York State Attorney General’s Tips for Avoiding Becoming a Victim of a Craigslist Rental Scam
Make sure you know who actually owns the advertised property (records can be checked at local county courthouses and some municipalities allow you to check tax records online).
Never wire any money at the request of a potential landlord.
Research the name or company you’re dealing with to see if they have any complaints against them.
Never send a scan of your passport or other ID. These thieves will use your identity to scam others.
Use reverse directory look-up if the person has given you their telephone number. It’s important to double check that they are who they say they are.
Due to the rise in foreclosures, ask the landlord if they’re current on their mortgage payments, and then get their answer in writing.
Consider using another method for finding a rental (a real estate agent or a rental agency).
Check the Better Business Bureau.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Source: State of New York, Office of the Attorney General (2012).
Yet, perhaps the best advice for both potential renters – and landlords – today , absent any policy changes from Craigslist, is to provide your own security in the transaction. Yes, this will come at a cost. However, the relative cost is minor compared to losing thousands of dollars to an Internet scammer on Craigslist – both from the initial loss of a security deposit and advance rent in the transaction and the larger threat of identity theft. This author has two suggestions in this regard:
1. Use of a Reputable Online Escrow Service: In this article, we have seen that handing over cash and wiring funds to a landlord in a rental property transaction are very risky propositions and should be avoided. Further, even verifying the “owner’s name” and checking the property records with the county can not provide an absolute assurance to the would-be renter that they are dealing with a legitimate property owner who has the right to lease the home or other property in question. Likewise, for the landlord , how can he or she be assured that the renter will come through with proper payments? In sum, how then can both parties – the landlord and his/her potential tenant – be assured of the legitimacy of one another? The answer is to make use of an online escrow service.
Where should you turn to in order to provide such escrow services? Before you make the mistake of Googling “online escrow” or conduct a similar search, do be aware that there are a number of scam escrow sites. In that regard, you will recall from Craigslist’s site that the company specifically cautions against the use of online escrow services (See Sidebar: Craigslist – Scams – Personal Safety Tips). While some start-up firms specifically cater to the online rental property market, such as Austin, Texas-based DepositGuard (http://www.depositguard.com/), the leader in the online escrow field, having processed over $1 billion in secure transactions over the past decade is Escrow.com, based in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. In fact, the company is the only firm licensed to perform escrow services in all fifty states and is one of only two escrow firms licensed by the State of California.
Using Escrow.com’s system, which can be initiated by either the landlord or the renter in such a transaction, both parties can be assured of their desired outcomes. For the renter, using Escrow.com affords him or her the opportunity to know that they can safely provide funds for security deposits and/or rent that will be applied correctly and made to the legitimate owner of the property. For the landlord or property owner, using Escrow.com allows him or her to know that the renter has sufficient funds available in the escrow account set-up for the specific transaction to progress to the next stage in the process (from securing the deposit to eventually even collecting monthly rent via online escrow). In essence, the presence of the third-party assures that payments will be made once a certain milestone (each of which has to be agreed to by both parties) is met. No more would a would-be renter simply wire or send money – on faith – with the prospect of the key to their desired rental property be sent in return. So, whether or not a rental agreement begins on Craigslist, a classified ad, or even from a local individual passing a local property with a “for rent” sign in front, Escrow.com’ system provides a new level of assurance in the landlord-tenant relationship.
Commenting on the value of Escrow.com in this vein, Brandon Abbey, the firm’s President and Managing Director, observed that:
“Unfortunately, we see rental fraud instances increasing daily across the globe. We’ve built our business around protecting buyers and seller, as well as renters and landlords, from losing money on a fraudulent transaction. It’s important to note that escrow fraud is rampant as well, and it’s important to work with a fully licensed and accredited online escrow company. As far as I know, we are the only ones that can make that claim…something we are very proud to say, I might add.”
2. Use of a Commercial Validation Service: As we have seen in the fraud cases reported in this article, literally seeing a property and even setting foot in it is not an assurance that the “landlord” is legitimate and offering a valid property. Thus, a commercial provider has stepped in to provide just such a service to provide a greater element of assurance in online transactions. The company is aptly named WeGoLook (http://www.wegolook.com).
Based in Oklahoma City, WeGoLook employs a network of over 7,000 “lookers” nationwide. For a nominal fee, potential renters of property can have a WeGoLook Looker® provide an inspection report on the prospective rental, including taking ten digital photos of the home or condominium. Additionally, the company offers its services at a discounted rate for sellers, who can contract to have a WeGoLook Looker® compile a report that can be offered to prospective renters as verification of the offering. The company’s services will work with any item sold online – cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, jewelry, etc., so long as it can be made publicly available to the Looker®. The process works as follows:
WeGoLook® will send a Looker® to look at the item for you.
Your Looker® will confirm existence and location of the item.
Your Looker® will take a few digital pictures and gather some basic information about the item (brand, model number, serial number, manufacturer, VIN number, etc.)
Your Looker® can even ask the seller to demonstrate that the item is in basic working order.
With a Custom WeGoLook® Report, we can verify that the item you purchase is delivered to the shipper.
As its offerings apply to providing assurance in the area of home and property rentals, Robin N. Smith, who is the Co-Founder of WeGoLook commented that:
Fraudsters are increasingly savvy with fake listings which appear legitimate. Online consumers or potential rental victims can avoid costly mistakes by simply dispatching a “Looker” to verify existence or condition of an item, property or person. In fact, WeGoLook arranges to meet with the Seller and⁄or Property Owner- which is difficult to do if the Scammer is out-of-state or country. Remember- WeGoLook When You Can’t!”
In the end, this author believes that the return on investment – and the potential for large loss avoidance – will make the use of both online escrow services and personal inspection providers simply a “best practice” for high dollar online transactions. Doing so – and recognizing the value and cost-effectiveness of such services – will go a long way towards combatting the rampant problem of Craigslist fraud in rentals and other areas. While this represents a “bottom-up” approach to attacking the problem, this author firmly believes that Craig Newmark and the leadership of Craigslist should choose to actively address their long-standing fraud issues in this market that is of vital importance both to their firm and to the housing needs of the nation in our “rent first” environment we find ourselves in at present.
Cheng, Chris (2012). Local soldiers become target of online scam. KXXV-TV, May 10, 2012. Available at:
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Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Press Release: New Nigerian Scheme Utilizing Craigslist (Issued July 22, 2009). Available at:
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Hulette, Elisabeth (2012). Beach police raise alarm on Craigslist rental scams. The Virginian-Pilot, May 13, 2012. Available at:
Kenney, Amanda (2012). Fake Realty Scam Hits Waco. KCEN-TV, May 8 2012. Available at:
Lysiak, Matt (2008). Craigslist scams targeting renters desperate for affordable apartments. New York Daily News, February 11, 2008. Available at:
Morse, Caroline (2012). 10 Tricky Travel Scams (and How to Beat Them). Smarter Travel, May 8, 2012. Available at:
Ogden, Eloise (2012). Scammers prey on unsuspecting renters. Minot Daily News, May 13, 2012. Available at:
Rusch, Katey (2012). Craigslist Scammers Target Twin Ports. WDIO-TV, May 4, 2012. Available at:
http://www.wdio.com/article/stories/S2607411.shtml?cat=10335.Statistic Brain (2012).
Craigslist Statistics (April 2012). Available at:
State of New York, Office of the Attorney General (2012). Press Release: A.G. Schneiderman Issues “Consumer Alert” To Protect New Yorkers From Craigslist Rental Scams (Issued March 21, 2012).Available at:
Weiker, Jim (2012). Rent scam snares unwary. The Columbus Dispatch, May, 6, 2012. Available at:
Wilson, Sarah (2012). Rental fraud hits home. Winter Park/Maitland Observer, May 9, 2012. Available at:
About the Author
David C. Wyld (email@example.com) is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Business News 24/7, can be viewed at http://wyld-business.blogspot.com/
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