Downtown Rental Fraud – Avoiding Scams on Craigslist, Rocketlease and Textme
Los Angeles, CA (December 28, 2014) — Troubled anonymous advertising and communications providers Craigslist.org, Peerless Network and RocketLease appear to be associated with what may be among the largest rental fraud and identity theft operations.
When prospective Downtown Los Angeles resident Dan Juarez thought he found a deal that was too good to be true in Craigslist this past weekend, he made the smart move and looked up the real estate agent that was named in the ad. The agent, Downtown specialist Realtor(R) Corey Chambers informed Dan that the property posted on Craigslist was unfortunately a typical fraudulent posting that is commonly found on the fraud-plagued classifieds website.
Juarez thought that he found an amazing deal on a beautiful luxury loft with panoramic views at the Sky loft building between Downtown L.A.’s Financial District and South Park neighborhoods. The property that normally leases for around $3,500 was posted for just $980 per month. The fraudsters posted a legitimate agent’s name to give a guise of legitimacy, along with an anonymous TextMe number of 213-289-6738. The impersonated real estate agent was not involved with the posting, but immediately took action to stop the fraud that could tarnish the agent’s good name. Agent Corey Chambers was able to give the corrected property information to Mr. Juarez and several others who were astute enough to check on the suspicious ad. It is unknown how many may have sent money or social security numbers to the scammers. At least 5 people inquired about leasing the luxury condo. Chambers informed all who called that all Craigslist postings with severely discounted properties are suspected frauds until proven otherwise.
After investigation by the L.A. Loft Blog, it was determined that Craigslist, Rocketlease.com, Godaddy.com, Linode.com, Zendesk.com, Textme app and Peerless Network each have a hand in tacit approval of the scam. Craigslist provides the advertising vehicle for the fraud operation. Rocketlease provides the application that accepts the victim’s private personal information to use in identity theft, including social security number. Godaddy.com provides the domain names for the fraudsters. Zendesk and Peerless Network provide the telephone, voicemail and text lines to the perpetrators. Peerless Network seems to be the linchpin of the whole operation — worse than adding insult to injury, Peerless Networks actually profits twice from the fraud by not only providing anonymous communications, but by later charging money for legal documents that are directly related to the numerous ongoing investigations and legal actions surrounding the frauds that Peerless supports.
When notified of the issues, some promised action, but none of the companies apparently took any action whatsoever to stop the abuse. While Craigslist blocks text and links that interfere with Craigslist’s business goals, Craigslist has chosen not to block text with links to known fraud-perpetuating websites such as rocketlease.com. Peerless Networks may be the most abominable offender, as Peerless seems to be not only operating above the law, but profiting directly from the lawlessness by taking additional money directly from the fraud victims.
“The best defense we have against these fraudsters and their profiteers is to get out the truth of what they are doing and what they are profiting from,” said Corey Chambers, “any person or company involved is part of the problem unless they fight against it.” Chambers and the L.A. Loft Blog vow to extend their investigations to provide additional evidence to authorities and to litigation plaintiffs if the responsible parties do not take appropriate actions to prevent and counter the fraud.
Anyone considering the rental of a Downtown property should only deal in person directly with the owner, manager or licensed real estate agent. Search licensed agents at dre.ca.gov and Google. Anything listed on Craigslist must be verified to ensure that it is not fraud. Prospective renters should not complete online applications or send payment until verifying the identity of the receiver. Always meet in person, or at least by voice phone call to a verified phone number. Personal information should never be sent via anonymous services such as Textme or Rocketlease.
When contacted, Pat Phipps of Peerless Network denied that Peerless Networks is associated with the offending telephone number. Phipps also denied that Peerless Networks is also profiting from victims on its website, where it states many fees, including $250 per hour to have a supervisor produce records to victims who need to track down their victimizers.
TextMe representative Christophe Bach said that he will investigate the matter, but denied any responsibility of preventing the fraud.
Fraud-related document gallery:
Corey Chambers, Realtor(R)
Realty Source Inc BRE#01889449