Tampa realtor warns about scammers using Zillow after finding fake Westchase listing

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – An 8 on Your Side warning!

Popular house buying sites like Zillow is make finding a new home easier than ever. But it also makes it easier for crooks to scam potential buyers.

Realtor Emily Harkins says it’s a scam she’s seen a few times in her career.

You make a fake listing for a house you don’t even own and prey on house hunters eager for a good deal.

“So randomly on a Sunday evening my phone started ringing a lot,” Harkins said.

The calls were about a house for sale, a three-bedroom, two-bath in Westchase…A steal, at $250,000 and with more than 1,500 views on Zillow, in just one day.

Harkins was ready to jump on the opportunity.

“I immediately reached out to this seller to see if I could sell this property,” Harkins said.

But the so-called seller replied with excuses for why he couldn’t show Harkins the house in person such as his job moved him out of state and his wife was suffering from medical problems.

That’s when red flags started going off for Harkins.

“So when I did get time to actually sit down and research a bit more I realized that the address was wrong,” Harkins said.

Harkins realized this was likely a scam to steal deposits from potential buyers.

“I think these professional scammers are working on these people’s emotions,” Harkins said.

Harkins eventually found the actual owner who is trying to rent the house and gave them a heads up. She also took to Facebook to spread the word.

“I just couldn’t let these innocent buyers possibly lose two, three, four thousand dollars,” Harkins said.

Now, she leaves house hunters with this advice, if it’s too good to be true it likely is.

Harkins also reported the fake listing to Zillow who looked into it and eventually, took the listing down.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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