Couple finds their New Jersey home listed by scammer on Zillow

SPRING LAKE HEIGHTS, New Jersey (WABC) -- 7 On Your Side has given warnings about hijacked vacation rental properties ripping off renters who wired money away to scammers for a week's stay.

But what if you found out that your own home was for sale, listed online by an imposter claiming to be the owner.

Even more chilling, the homeowner secretly recorded the scammer attempting to sell her - her own home.

Imagine the shock of talking to someone who claims she owns your home.

"I think its alarming, I'm not selling my home" said homeowner Kerry Brady.

Yet Kerry and Steve's Spring Lake Heights house was listed for sale on the most popular real estate website, Zillow.

On a phone call, the imposter claimed she was from Vermont and that she just inherited Kerry's Shore Road home.

Her phone number was listed on Zillow as the owner, so Kerry called and recorded the conversation.

"I don't want the property, it's way too big," the woman said.

She was selling it for an inflated $1.7 million. When pressed, the imposter couldn't answer basic questions about the property.

When Brady asked the phony owner to see the house, she got caught in a riptide of excuses.

"I'm just not really comfortable with meeting anyone face to face," the woman said.

"She's not sure if she can leave the state, due to an overprotective father-in-law to somebody needed to get a vaccination, she's pregnant" Brady said. "It really got alarming when the person said they weren't local, but they were going to use a locksmith to change the locks on the home."

Frightened for her family's safety, Brady quickly changed every lock on the house.

She flagged the fraud to Zillow which took the listing down. But, five days later, the listing was back up.

"It was back up again, it was back on Zillow and I realized it was a David and Goliath situation and I needed help to get through to Zillow," Brady said.

Her next step was to go to to the police and 7 On Your Side.

We got through to Zillow. Within an hour, it wiped the property off the website stating, "The most recent listing was submitted from a different Zillow account. The user profile has been blocked."

Zillow said it also placed additional security restrictions on the property.

"You guys saved us a lot of heartache. Without you I don't know where we would be right now," Steve said.

Three red flags for your Big Takeaway:

- Beware if someone refuses to show you the house
- Beware of a bargain-basement price
- Beware if someone wants you to wire a deposit

More information: https://www.zillow.com/z/info/beware-of-scams-and-other-internet-fraud/

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