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A million-dollar home for $15,000? How scammers are trying to get your money

Scammers are taking advantage of this current market. So how can you tell when something is just too good to be true?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With the housing market the way it is, a lot of home buyers are looking for deals even as home prices are skyrocketing. Scammers are taking advantage of this current market. 

So how can you tell when something is just too good to be true? 

Susan B sent WCNC Charlotte an email asking about a home in Charlotte listed for sale on Zillow for just $15,000. She was pretty sure it was a scam but wanted WCNC Charlotte to verify.

THE QUESTION:

Is this deal, a million-dollar home for $15,000, too good to be true? 

THE SOURCES:

THE ANSWER: 

This is true.

Yes, this listing is a scam, and too good to be true. 

Both brokers told WCNC Charlotte the best thing you can do is work with a realtor to help guide your search for your dream home.

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WHAT WE FOUND: 

The Zillow listing shows pictures of a home that's valued at more than $800,000 but only listed for a little more than $15,000. The listing describes how the owner has many properties and wants to sell this home for cheap to first-time buyers, sounds nice, right? 

Well, if you continue to read the listing, the red flags start popping up.

Among the red flags are phrases like "deposit 246 dollars cash to my mom through Western Union only before a walkthrough of the home" and "No realtors, no lenders, investors or attorneys, only first-time buyers without representation."

"If it looks fishy, there is probably a good chance that it is," Guevara said.

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Guevara said his company has a partnership with Zillow, so when we clicked on 'Contact Agent' on the listing, they were able to send WCNC Charlotte a message. When he looked at the property description, he could tell something was fishy right away.

"There are definitely some other things to look out for: People will ask for money, they will ask for a deposit," Guevara said. "Don't send money to anyone you haven't personally met." 

There was also a number listed in the description for potential buyers to call the property manager. When WCNC Charlotte called the number, it went straight to voicemail, but the mailbox was full. 

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Using a database we have, WCNC Charlotte was able to find the actual owners of the home and gave them a call. They said the house is not for sale.

"If someone is giving you a million-dollar house for $15,000, they are trying to get you to commit to giving them some sort of cash upfront," Banks said. 

Banks told WCNC Charlotte she's seen plenty of scams just like this one on websites that allow people to put a house up for sale. 

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"That's people stealing those pictures, and they take the information and the homeowner's descriptions so it looks credible but it's not," Banks said.

WCNC Charlotte reached out to Zillow. They shared the following statement:  

"Zillow strives to provide a safe online community on our platform and we go to great lengths to monitor activity and inform our users of the possibility of scams and how to protect themselves. Our teams use a number of different tools to prevent inappropriate content from publishing, but if a listing is found to be fraudulent after it's posted, our team takes steps to remove it from our site. We have a "Beware of scams and other internet fraud" page on the site, informing users to look out for red flags like requests for wire transfers and long-distance inquiries, and other valuable information about how to avoid fraudulent listings."

Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

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