MADISON, Wis. (3/31/10)--Remember the story about the three little pigs? Maybe you thought it ended with the wolf in a pot of boiling water. But here’s what happened next, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Press Office ( March 12) and the Credit Union National Association's Center for Personal Finance: The refund scam.
To make some extra money, the Third Little Pig placed an online ad to rent out a room in his house of bricks. A wolf replied by e-mail, explaining that he was desperate to find lodging and was willing to rent the room sight unseen. The wolf sent a cashier’s check for several months’ rent, which the pig deposited and his bank cleared. However, the wolf soon called the pig to say that his plans had changed and asked for a refund. The pig sent him the full amount, but when the bank learned that the cashier’s check was counterfeit, the pig had to reimburse it for the lost money. Moral of the story:
* Request would-be renters’ personal references and check them out. * Be suspicious of anyone who offers to rent without viewing the property or offers a check written for more than the agreed-upon fee.
The missionary scam.
His house of sticks destroyed, the Second Little Pig answered an online ad for a rental condo at a great price. Unfortunately the ad linked to a website for a fake real estate broker. The pig unknowingly dealt directly with the property “owner,” a wolf who claimed to be a missionary working overseas. Needless to say, when the pig wired the rent to the wolf, he never saw his money again. Moral of the story:
* Never send funds to someone about whom you know nothing. * Ask for a rental application. Be skeptical if one is not available, because most managed properties require one.
And the First Little Pig? The scams his brothers fell for were the last straw. He signed up for FBI fraud alerts, learned how to avoid common schemes, and is now living high on the hog in a very affordable three-sty apartment.