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ConsumerWatch: Phony Ads Used As Credit Services Lure

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Web site image of San Francisco-based Craigslist.

(CBS)

REDWOOD CITY (CBS 5) – Scammers are doctoring up phony real estate and help-wanted ads that are tricking apartment and job hunters to sign up for subscription credit monitoring services they may not want or need.

Lan Tang of Redwood City found such an ad on Craigslist last month. It advertised a three-bedroom Craftsman-style home in Los Altos for $2,400 a month, with a grove of fruit trees nearby.

“It sounded like my neighbor’s house,” Tang told ConsumerWatch.

When Tang responded that she was interested, she got an email back telling her she’d need to provide her credit score by clicking on a link embedded in the ad. That link took her to FreeScore360.com – which wasn’t exactly free. After a 7-day trial period costing $1.00, the service charges customers $29.95-a-month for a basic membership.

It also turned out there was no house for rent. The ad disappeared off Craigslist the next day, and Tang never heard from the “landlord” again.

Gerri Detweiler of Credit.com said it’s a classic case of what’s known as “affiliate fraud.”

It appears this is a complete scheme to generate income for the person placing the ad,” Detweiler told ConsumerWatch.

Detweiler said the ad’s purpose isn’t to advertise a rental, but to rack up a commission for the person who placed the ad, and gets a payment for every individual who signs up for the service.

FreeScore360’s parent company, One Technologies of Dallas, said it has a strict policy that forbids third-party marketers from engaging in fraudulent activity. Company officials also said it has severed its relationship with the marketer.

 

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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