Zillow hacker lists couple’s home ‘for sale by owner’ for $10,200: ‘A hot mess’ – Yahoo! Voices

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An unsuspecting husband and wife found themselves at the center of a bizarre real-estate racket.

In Kansas City, a listing recently appeared for their five-bedroom ranch house being sold for the beyond bargain price of $10,200 — only, the property wasn’t for sale, but part of a strange swindling scheme, its owners told the Kansas City Star.

“It actually is a scam,” said Jamey Bertram, who bought the residence with his wife, Lauren Bertram, for close to $1 million in 2019. “It’s a hot mess.”

The couple purchased the property for close to $1 million in 2019. Timon – stock.adobe.comThe couple purchased the property for close to $1 million in 2019. Timon – stock.adobe.com

The couple purchased the property for close to $1 million in 2019. Timon – stock.adobe.com

The couple, who have no intention of selling the property, were not even aware of the listing until they were contacted about it.

“My wife and I both started getting emails from our friends saying, ‘Hey, are you selling your house?’ Of course, we’re not,” Bertram, who is a senior vice president at the architecture and engineering firm Burns & McDonnell, told the outlet. “I didn’t know what they were talking about.”

What they were talking about was a new listing on the website Zillow that advertised the Bertrams’ 5,300-square-foot abode as “for sale by owner” with a barely five-digit price tag to “FIRST TIME BUYERS ONLY!”

The hacker explained the low price with a story about tax write-offs. cendeced – stock.adobe.comThe hacker explained the low price with a story about tax write-offs. cendeced – stock.adobe.com

The hacker explained the low price with a story about tax write-offs. cendeced – stock.adobe.com

“Selling my home because my family and I own many houses across the U.S.,” the fraudulent post explained. “Once a year we sell one or a few of our homes to first time buyers for under $25,000. This is done to bless a family or individual that needs it, but also as a tax write off for us.”

Those interested were instructed to call “Mandi” at a phone number with a Las Vegas area code which, when reached by the Star, further instructed would-be buyers to send a fully refundable $200 through an online bank app “to the owner’s mom…Then we can move forward.”

As a result of the post, people began “showing up at our house, knocking. They want to come in and see our house,” said Bertram, who quickly reported the listing to Zillow last week. The company took it down a few days later, this past Friday.

“Zillow strives to provide a safe online platform with accurate information, which is why we go to great lengths to prevent inappropriate content from being posted and to fully inform users of how to protect themselves online and offline,” a Zillow spokesperson told The Post. “Our teams monitor activity in several different ways, actively screening out fraudulent listing submissions, and if an existing listing is found to be spurious, it is removed from our sites as quickly as possible. Our ‘Beware of Scams and Other Internet Fraud’ page provides valuable information on how to spot and avoid bad actors in the housing market, including red flags such as requests for wire transfers or prices that seem too good to be true.”

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