Internet Ads

Published on December 29th, 2017

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Bay Area Houses 4 Cash

“We MUST hear from you soon!” the postcard implored, the words “property notification” lending a sense legitimacy to the unsolicited piece of mail. Yet when the recipient called the 888 number to listen to the “very important and urgent message” regarding the “potential transfer of ownership” of her home, it wasn’t any city official on the other end of the line.

The recording began:

Hello, and thank you for calling. As we mentioned in the note we sent you, we’d like to buy your property and we’re curious if you were thinking of selling. Now, we don’t know your particular reasons for selling or even if you are interested in selling at all but if you have thought about it …

Yadda, yadda, yadda. You get the picture.

A closer look at the postcard, which was brought to TINA.org’s attention by a reader, reveals the name and address of the sender: Bay Area Houses 4 Cash, P.O. Box 515 San Francisco, CA 94104. That address takes us to a post office in San Francisco’s Financial District. We point this out because we struggled to find anything on the company online. There’s no apparent website, no BBB page. And when we asked where we could find information on the company in response to a text we received after calling the 888 number and listening to the recording ourselves (though we didn’t leave a message), we got the silent treatment.

According to the recording, Bay Area Houses 4 Cash is a real estate company that pays below market value in cash for properties in need of repairs, fixes them up, and then flips them for a profit, all of which requires little effort on the part of the seller, whose closing costs are paid by the company.

But there are additional red flags.

While the recording starts with an offer to buy your property, it ends with a prompt to leave a message at the beep with the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your home. You’d think that someone who is serious about buying your property would already have this relevant information.

Then there’s this: When we entered the 650 number that sent the text after we listened to the recording in a reverse phone search on whitepages.com, the site identified it as a non-fixed VoIP. In a 2015 blog post, Whitepages warned that these “disposable” internet-created numbers are popular with spammers for many reasons:

The ability to quickly generate new numbers, spoof the caller ID information, and hide anonymously makes Non-Fixed VoIP lines ideal for spammers. Our data shows that a Non-Fixed VoIP number has a 20% higher chance of being fraudulent.

At the very least, it seems like a shady way of doing business.

Find more of our coverage on real estate here.

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