Fraud and scams
Can a Realtor have a felony record? Well, there’s one way to find out; you can go to this link at the California Department of Real Estate License Lookup, also known as the DRE. You fill out a name or a license number.
When we receive an offer on a property, I always check the license number on the DRE site. I can make sure they have a license that is valid without any disciplinary issues or suspensions. If there are court records, you will find those documents attached. Then, the next step is MLS online to look up a buyer’s agent production numbers. It is important to know whether this is a newer agent and or does the agent have enough transactions completed to work without supervision.
All right, are you wondering who texted a Google Verification Code from Craigslist to you? I know, I know, Craigslist is a hot bed of illegal activity, and you have to be doubly careful every time you go there to make sure you don’t get snookered or scammed. Still, there are times you need to use Craigslist. If this is one of those times for you, then listen up to what can happen if somebody texted a Google Verification Code from Craigslist to you.
First, don’t reply to such a person. I received a couple of those text messages all at once, the minute I posted an ad on Craigslist. I receive Google Verification Codes all the time but have never been asked to provide such a code in a text message from a stranger. What they both said was they wanted to verify that I was a real person. I know better, yes, I do. But it was over so fast I didn’t blink.
Well, don’t I feel like almost a victim — as I was completely unaware of Sacramento con artists on cellphones. I’m sharing this with you so you’ll recognize it when it happens. We all see the guys with cardboard signs standing on street corners and begging for money. Some of those people have dire needs but some are also professional beggars. Part of me says what difference does it make if people have to lie or beg to get money, we should just give it to them if we have it. But then another part of me says whoa to scammers. Because I don’t like being played as a victim when they tug on my heart strings.
You let down your guard when you walk into Target, for example. Which is where we were yesterday after the Land Park Community Association membership BBQ. Picking up a few items we can’t get at the Sacramento Co-op. Focused, on a mission. Although I was marveling at how different Target looks versus the last time I visited that store at Broadway and Riverside. It’s been redesigned and the layout is different. Just strolling along with my husband, headed for the aisles displaying enormous packages of paper towels.
Someone behind us was on a cellphone. We could not help but overhear his conversation. The person talking seemed overly anxious and said things like, “You know, I have to get to my job. I have to be there in 45 minutes and I can’t lose my job. But I don’t have any money for gas, I don’t want to lose my job.” Very personal information. My bogus radar should have gone up, but it didn’t. I whispered to my husband that we should help this guy. Thinking, maybe we should give him twenty bucks.
Well, apparently a lot of people think that way. I am certainly not the only one. The dude is counting on it. My husband said he heard that same conversation down the street at a different store a few days earlier. Same guy, too. Did not know I have to look out for Sacramento con artists on cellphones, but that’s how they rope you in. Making it sound so innocent, like you just happened to overhear their distressing conversation.
Geez. You can’t even go to Target without confronting Sacramento con artists on cellphones. If you could glance at the scammer’s phone, you’d see there is nobody on the other end of the phone.
Swiping a credit card to commit Uber fraud seems like such a hokey thing to do. There are so many other ways to utilize a stolen credit card than hopping into an Uber for a 15-minute ride. I mean, you could be buying $1,000 bags at Henri Bendel, which is what a Sacramento waitress in Midtown managed to do after I lunched at a sushi place on J Street. Or, a thief could purchase diamonds or bitcoin or maybe a semi-automatic rifle. Crooks are stupid. If they had any brains, they wouldn’t have to be a crook.
When I woke up yesterday morning, there was an email and a text message waiting for me from my bank asking if I had authorized a $33.20 Uber ride. There was also a second Uber charge. I immediately went about trying to call Uber to report the theft. My bank said somebody stole my credit information and opened a fake account at Uber.
Since I have an Uber account and my last Uber ride was in June, I thought it was odd that the bank would contact me about it. There must have been some other reason the bank felt it was suspicious. I dunno, maybe because Uber fraud is on the rise. Found many links about Uber fraud through Google. But no way to contact Uber. Well, you can email, but you know what happens to emails. Oops. Time for lunch, oh shoot, deleted.
Jumped on Twitter and sent a tweet to @support_uber. They asked me to follow them and promised to direct message but I got nothing after that. So, I hopped on Facebook and found several Uber Facebook pages. Not much came from that except I found a bit of solace that other people were victims of Uber fraud as well. Misery loves company.
Like I explained to my bank, I almost feel like paying their Uber bill just so I don’t have to replace my credit card and notify 50 vendors of my new credit card information. But if the crooks use it for Uber, they will use their new-found “wealth” elsewhere. This time, I have been fraud-free for almost two years. It is painful to realize we are all marks. Nothing is safe. And Uber doesn’t seem to give a damn about its customers. If they had contacted me yesterday, probably could have nabbed the crooks.
As a result, I called my bank a second time at the end of the day when I could not get Uber to respond. By that time, there were two more Uber charges on my card for a total of four trips. Turns out the charges were made in The Netherlands, which my bank says is Uber’s corporate office. So I suspect they noted international charges when I am using my card on vacation in Hawaii. No international hotels. No international meals. Tip off.
Speaking of tips . . .
TIP: Our exclusive buyer’s agent Josh Almolsch informs me that Lyft is cheaper than Uber. He doesn’t even use Uber anymore.
Do you know the difference between real news or a con job? Are you being solicited as a consumer or are you receiving important information? In our Sacramento Bee on Sunday, my eyes fell on an article about 5 things that make you money when selling a home. None of the things in that article made any sense. Five bullet points and the middle point talked about a new roof, naming a certain roofing company. A new roof won’t make a seller more money. It’s a maintenance item not an improvement. A few more paragraphs down, the roofing company website was noted. This was not an article. The piece was an advertisement.
They are getting so clever and slick with this stuff. OK, says I, instead I will read my new RisMedia magazine. Except half of the articles in that magazine are written by third-party vendors who would LOVE to do business with Realtors. In fact, the entire slant of many so-called informational articles are about why the reader should purchase the author’s service or product. Makes me wonder if the magazine charges the vendors who supply it with content.
It’s bad enough there are news stations in this country where you can’t get the news. You would think it would be news because they call themselves a news station. But it’s not. You know how you can tell whether it is real news or a con job? If it is real news, the reporter will give you the facts without personal commentary. If it is not real news, the reporter will share what the reporter thinks about it. This is not real news because reporters are independent third parties reporting the hard, cold facts. Not opinions.
When they share opinions, they are no longer reporters. They are television personalities with commentary. Like Geraldo.
I have a strong aversion to being sold stuff and having it disguised as real news. I like to tell myself that I know the difference between real news and a con job, but that line is constantly blurring. Makes me wonder if children today will know the difference when they become adults. They don’t read newspapers. Only skim headlines now.
Common nature for many people to have an agenda. Just saying, I’m not gonna go into what you should think about the news, but at least try to get your factual news from a reputable source. If you hear a talking-head on television sharing an opinion, flip the channel until you find a real news station. Can you imagine Walter Cronkite inserting his own thoughts into a news story? That would be ludicrous.
Similarly, if you’re looking for an agent to help you buy a home in Sacramento, do not ask the listing agent to represent you. Hire an exclusive buyer’s agent who will represent only your interests and not that of the seller. Don’t get ripped off. You owe it yourself to hire your own buyer’s agent. It costs the same, and the specialty services offered by a real-life buyer’s agent will blow you away. We have expert buyer’s agents on the Elizabeth Weintraub Team waiting to hear from you. Call 916.233.6759.