Craigslist Real Estate Scam

A new real estate scam has popped up close to home.  Kake.com is reporting that Wichita is getting hit with a Craigslist scam that is essentially preying on a person’s need to find a place to live quickly.  That urgency is causing some to make poor decisions to pay a deposit without ever entering the home or even meeting the person claiming to own it.  After the deposit clears the owner disappears and the tenant has just lost their deposit.

This is a great example of why we moderate every listing and listen to our users when they do start to get scammy e-mails or phone calls. While we can’t guarantee a 100% scam free service we work extremely hard to keep these bad guys from doing as much damage as they can on other sites like Craigslist.

As always you should use good judgement when buying or renting from people you meet on the Internet.  With all that said can I interest you in a 40 bedroom, 35 bath, 6 level fixer upper for just $450/mo?  Just kidding…


Here is a link to the Kake.com story.

Garage Sales - Hays KS - Week of 5/16/14

It is garage sale season and we wanted to make your picking process a little easier. We are doing a little test with this blog post to see if there is any value for the format. Just print this post and you are ready to go. We really need your feedback so please comment here or e-mail us at justin@discoverstuff.com.

Here is a list of garage sales for Hays for the weekend starting Friday May 16th - Sunday May 18th.

Hays, KS
Friday 8am - 7pm - 2513 General Hancock Rd (http://www.nextechclassifieds.com/listings/view/787601/)


Friday 9am - 6pm, Saturday 8am - Noon - 2215 Marjorie Dr (http://www.nextechclassifieds.com/listings/view/787398/)


Friday 3pm - 7:30pm - 1402 W 44th Street (http://www.nextechclassifieds.com/listings/view/787826/)


Friday 4pm - 8pm - 410 Santa Fe (http://www.nextechclassifieds.com/listings/view/787667/)


Friday 4pm - ?, Saturday 8am - Noon - 1701 Western Plains (http://www.nextechclassifieds.com/listings/view/785452/)


Friday 5pm - Dark - 2914 Indian Trail (http://www.nextechclassifieds.com/listings/view/787175/)


Saturday 9am - Noon - Marian Hall- 201 W. 13th (http://www.nextechclassifieds.com/listings/view/539871/)

 

 

iOS App Issue Update

Our most recent update introduced a new issue for some users.  The symptom is pretty obvious.  When you launch the app it crashes.  Doesn’t get much more obvious than that.  The issue is that one or more fields in your account profile are empty.  We are pushing a new update to the App store today but due to the Apple process this could still take a couple of days until it gets out to our users.

For now the simple solution is to make sure your profile is filled out completely.  The easiest way to do this is to go to the website, log in, click on your username then Account.  It should look similar to this.

Just fill out your profile, save and you should be good to go.  We apologize for this inconvenience.  If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask by sending us an e-mail at info@discoverstuff.com.

Videos are coming! Videos are coming!

On Monday January 20th we are launching Videos!!!  Ok what does that mean?  Basically you will be able to upload a video showing off the item you are trying to sell.  For some items pictures are all you need but others are much better served with a video.

We are really looking forward to seeing how our users use this new feature.  Walk through a home, hear an aggressive car engine, see that cute dog running around.  The ideas are endless!  Each video will be moderated by a human to make sure we don’t allow inappropriate content on the site.

With the launch, videos will be limited to 1 minute.  You can upload a video of any length and our transcoder will automatically trim it to the first 1 minute.  Supported video formats are  .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .mpeg, .mpg, or .wmv.  You will be able to upload videos from the website and our iOS app initially.  Android will be updated soon!

For a sneak peak of how the process will work check out our new “How To” video.

Similar Listings

Last week we launched our similar listings feature.  We are very excited about this one and the feedback has been tremendous.  Our goal was to provide a quick way for our users to find what they are looking for.

An example is… you are looking for a Toyota Tacoma pickup.  You look through the category like normal until you find one that looks interesting.. click on it.  Now you see the details of the 2000 Toyota Tacoma but this specific one isn’t for you.  Now look a little lower and voila you now see as many as five similar listings.  Not all of them are pickups but they do have something in common with the Toyota Tacoma.

This feature is dependent upon our users and how they title and describe their listings.  So make sure you are accurate with spelling and intent for your listing.  As always we crave feedback.  We will take it any way we can get it, e-mail, Twitter or Facebook!

similarlistings.jpg

Unsupported Browser Update

Late last night the team implemented an update to help users with older browsers.  Older browsers struggle with some new features and the problem will only get worse for those users as new features are added.  If you are using one of these older browsers you will also be opening yourself up to potential security issues.  As of today you will see this message if you are using one of the following browsers.

Windows:

Internet Explorer 6
Internet Explorer 7

In the message will be a link to upgrade your browser to the latest version available to you. If you have any questions let us know, justin@discoverstuff.com.

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 2.50.53 PM.png

Thank You!

I want to congratulate our team and our users. We just went over 80,000 users and 20 million pageviews per month! This is fantastic growth and we couldn't have done it without our users.. Thank You!

80,000 + Users

80,000 + Users

iPhone App is Here!

The wait is over!  The Nex-Tech Classifieds iPhone app is done and ready to download in the app store.  Now you can have an easy to use way to interact with all your Nex-Tech Classifieds tasks.  Everything from posting listings to communicating with buyers and sellers.  You no longer need to be tethered to your computer.

classifiedsiphonescreens.png

The app is compatible with all iOS version 6 devices.  Our initial feedback is great but we want to know what you think.  Don't forget to review the app and let us know your thoughts.

Scamming Story Straight From A User

The story below is from one of our users.  It is unedited and detailed.  It also shows how persistent scammers are.  As we always recommend...  always deal in cash and if it is too good to be true or it doesn't feel right then it is a scam.  We also recommend not showing your phone number if possible.  If a scammer can see it they can now target you via text message.  If you communicate within the site there are some safeguards built in that will help to slow the scammers down.

In January, I placed a woodstove for sale on a local classifieds website.  In about 2 weeks, I received a phone text inquiry into the availability of the stove.  I quickly realized this was a probable scam attempt, so I let them string me along.  

Shortly after the conversation started, I did a Google search for the phone number.  I found numerous complaint posts that the number was associated with scams similar to what I was seeing.  I immediately established an email address to use, both as a point of contact and to use as a fictitious Paypal account name.

What follows are the exact unedited conversations.  

8068537861:  Hey do you still have for it for sale....Woodstove $500.00 - 17:51
Me:  Yes I do. Call if you would like to talk about it. - 17:52
8068537861:  (1/2) My name is Racing,am from TX,am ready to purchase if it's in good condition,but am not coming to inspect it,cause am kinda old - 17:53
8068537861:  (2/2)fashion,no more power to run up and down,can you give me more detail about it - 17:53
Me:  Anything you would like to know.. It has 15 years on it. Everything is in perfect working order.. Usual rubs etc etc for that many years.- 17:57
Me:  Was used in my home till 2 weeks ago - 17:57
8068537861:  For how long have you been using it and what;s your main reason for selling it,and how much is the final price?- 18:06
Me:  i used it all winter, every winter to heat my entire home (1200+ sq ft), for all but the first year... - 18:07
Me:  selling it because i used it on the second floor of my home, and fire chief tells me it violates code in our town... $500 firm, cash.- 18:08
Me:  i am 65 yrs old, retired military officer, and completely honest. i wouldn't bring you all this way if it wasn't as i'm telling you.- 18:09
Me:  it's extremely heavy. i used 3 guys besides myself to move it out 2 wks ago.- 18:10
8068537861:  (1/3)Am okay with the condition,i can now proceed with the payment now,but my mode of payment will be via PayPal,so get back to me with your- 18:16
8068537861:  (2/3)name and your paypal email address,to proceed with the payment, I have make arrangement with the shipping company they will take care - 18:16
8068537861:  (3/3)of everything after the payment has been made - 18:16
Me:  sorry for the delay. i'm not inclined to do business via paypal. i'll have to have the cash in hand. if you'd like to pursue this further, please call and speak to me. thanks.- 18:53
8068537861:  (1/2) But paypal is fast and secure,and besides am paying upfront before any arrangement for pickup,you can logging to www.paypal.com to - 18:57
8068537861:  (2/2)start up with them - 18:57
Me:  i'm sorry. i don't think this is going to work out. - 19:14
Me:  how do i know this isn't some kind of scam?- 19:30
8068537861:  SCAM?- 19:31
Me:  sorry. i'm just suspicious and can't afford to get ripped off.- 19:32
Me:  sorry if I offended you. I'm just not too comfortable with doing internet payment. never done it before.- 19:42
8068537861:  K- 19:45
Me:  you don't want the stove, then?- 19:48
8068537861:  I want it but i can only pay through- 19:51
8068537861:  paypal- 19:51
Me:  i looked into paypal and opened an account, so i guess i'll try it. ------@yahoo.com i won't release the stove until the money is safely there. is that ok?- 19:55
8068537861:  Okay,but i will need the pickup address so that the shipping company can calculate my shipping cost - 19:59
Me:  you have my paypal account, and the city I'm in, that's sufficient to determine shipping, I think. I'll give you specifics after I see the money in the account.- 20:03
8068537861:  K- 20:05
Me:  are you sending the money right away?- 20:08
8068537861:  I will let you know asap- 20:12
Me:  ok. i'd like to get it over with quickly- 20:13
Me:  racing, i've had another call.. cash buyer. i dealt with you first, so if you can deposit the money immediately i'll still sell to you.- 20:50
Me:  if you can't, then i'll have to deal with the other person.- 20:50

CONVERSATION RESUMES THE NEXT MORNING:

8068537861:  (1/3) Please i will have to wire the total fund of $980 into your paypal account,so once you receive the total money you will help me to - 10:14
8068537861:  (2/3)send the 450$ to the shipper through western union that's why i add 30$ for western union charges,i would have love to pay them myself - 10:14
8068537861:  (3/3)but there's no nearest western union here and i cant make it to far distance,let me know before i made the payment- 10:14
Me:  I'll have to see the money in my paypal account before noon today, or i'll be selling to the other guy.- 10:21
8068537861:  Will you help me to pay the shipping company after you receive the total money- 10:23
Me:  as long as we are done with this by 12 o'clock today. who's the shipping company and what's their address? - 10:24
Me:  this is getting very complicated- 10:25
8068537861:  Good i will begin with the paymen rightaway,the shipping company will mail you there information once the payment as been made- 10:26
Me:  ok. thanks. i'll be watching my email.- 10:27
8068537861:  (1/3)I have wire the total fund into your paypal account,and am sure paypal should have credit your account with the total fund,you can- 11:04
8068537861:  (2/3)check your mail box for the payment confirmation,and please send my shipping fees today so that they can come for the pickup at your - 11:04
8068537861:  (3/3)convinient time- 11:04

4 EMAILS RECEIVED AT THIS POINT:

paypal1.png
paypal2.png
paypal3.png
paypal4.png

TEXTS RESUME:

Me:  Mr. Racing, I just received emails from paypal saying that your payment to them is "pending". i don't have $450 to send them without actually receiving your money.- 11:25
8068537861:  WHAT,that can be,let me kindly mail them,i will keep you posted,but you can also reply them for adequate response- 11:27
Me:  no, this has gone too far. i'm sorry but the deal is off and i'll be selling to someone else. i'm getting very bad feelings about this.- 11:29
8068537861:  What are you talking about?- 11:32
Me:  there are too many things wrong here. i will not be selling to you. i have another buyer. sorry.- 11:33
8068537861:  (1/2)This nothing but a betrayer but we had a deal,do you know that paypal can never refund the money back to me cause i wired into your - 11:36
8068537861:  (2/2)account myself- 11:37
Me:  sorry. but there's no money in the account so you have lost nothing. we are finished, and i don't want to hear anymore about it.- 11:40
8068537861:  But it has been deducted from my account- 11:48
Me:  you'll have to deal with paypal on that. i'm out and i won't be responding to anymore of your texts.- 11:50

My first clue was grammar and punctuation.  Initially I attributed it to poor language and typing skills, but the mistakes were oddly consistent from text to text.  As our conversation continued, the grammar  inconsistencies grew larger and became more frequent.

Secondly, this was a self described “old fashioned” guy who would only communicate by phone texts and would only pay through paypal, and all for an item he had no desire to inspect first.  Old fashioned folks where I'm from talk on the phone and send money orders, but mostly they just do face to face transactions.  

It was at this point that I Googled the phone number and knew that I was onto something. The “official” emails were surprisingly riddled with errors.  I was surprised.

Toward the end, I was just sick of dealing with such slime so I broke it off.  I have no doubt that tomorrow I would have received an email from the shipping company that their truck would be in my area and they needed the money immediately so they could do a pick up.  The Paypal confusion would not have been resolved yet.

I was disappointed that they didn't try harder to keep me hooked.  I assume that's because they have so many lines in the water that they don't want to waste time on just one fish.

New Categories!

Due to high demand we have added a new core category and some new sub-categories.

Art
Art/Supplies

ATV's, Motorcycles, Etc./Accessories & Parts

Computers & Electronics/Cell Phones

Clothing/Wedding & Formal

Tools & Building Materials/Supplies

We are always looking for ways to better serve our users. If you have ideas of future categories please let us know, info@discoverstuff.com.  Don't forget to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter to get real time updates.

DiscoverStuff Affiliate Update

Last week was a great one.  We added our fourth and fifth DiscoverStuff Affiliates to our growing network.  We are very excited to welcome Siskiyou Telephone (Etna, CA) and XIT Communications (Dalhart, TX) to the family.

Siskiyou now gives us inventory from Northern California.  This is a part of the country where we haven't had exposure in the past.  The Siskiyou team is very excited about becoming and affiliate and I expect to see inventory quickly.

XIT gives our current network of Kansas and Oklahoma a natural progression into Texas.  They are also excited and our regional footprint just got better.

Check our our entire affiliate list.  As always we love to hear what you think about the growth of DiscoverStuff.  Comment on this post or contact us via the site.

iPhone App Update

The deadline for our upcoming iPhone/iPad app is getting close.  I thought we could provide a little teaser for those hardcore Apple fans out there.  Development is going great and we expect to have the app ready by the end of 2012.

Austin Gabel, Sr. Developer working on our iOS app.

Austin Gabel, Sr. Developer working on our iOS app.

iOS App Screenshot

iOS App Screenshot

The iOS app will follow our current Android app from a feature standpoint.  The look and feel will be different with an even easier to use interface.  You will be able to completely manage your listings from taking the picture, posting the listing and communicating with buyers/sellers.  We will also be adding some new features as well.  Probably the biggest one is the “Location Distance”.  This will work like the website where you choose your location and then the mileage radius for the listings you would like to see.  This should help narrow down what you are looking for which is especially important when you are mobile and on the go.  Another great feature is the ability to share listings using the standard iOS sharing system.   This is becoming more and more important from a sellers standpoint.

Overall we know how important being mobile is.  Our own team is chomping at the bit to get their hands on the first beta when ready.  We also have some new ideas for all our mobile apps in 2013.  I won’t give away all our secrets but I will say garage sailing will be easier...

Deal With Annoying Users

At some point in your online life you have or will deal with users who you would rather not communicate with.  This could be someone harassing you, trying to scam you or just uses language you don't care for.

Well now you have a tool to deal with those users on DiscoverStuff.  You can now block users via the communications system.  Once the conversation has started either user can block the other one.  You always have the option to unblock them but they will have no control to get to you via the site.

This doesn't stop them from calling, texting or e-mailing you if you make that information available which is why we always recommend using the internal communications system when possible.  Here is a quick video showing how the new feature works.

Let us know your thoughts via our help page or e-mail at info@discoverstuff.com.

Cell Phone Scam

Late last week we found out about a new scam regarding cell phones.  We heard of a user who had purchased an iPhone from a seller but when they went to activate the phone on their own account they were told some bad news.  The iPhone they just bought was still tied to the sellers account who had bad debt therefore couldn't be activated.

We recommend getting the ESN number for the phone from the buyer then calling the wireless provider.  They should be able to tell you if the phone is capable of being activated before you make your purchase.

Hopefully this is a random event but we wanted to let you know that it can happen.

Scammer Tactics

It has been a while since we posted a scam related story.  With our tremendous growth I thought we should educate a little and also remind our old school users.  Today's reminder is about the communications system on the site.  We built it with the primary goal to stop scammers.  We have built in black lists for words and phrases that scammers typically use.  When these words or phrases are used the messages get blocked before our users even see them.  Out of sight out of mind so you don't get taken advantage of.   If you do communicate with someone you think is trying to scam you can also alert us by using the "Report as Bad/Scam" link within the message.  This will send us the information and we will deal with the person asap.  The system works great and helps to stop quite a few scam attempts everyday. 

Now the downside and the reason for this post.  Scammers know what we are doing so they routinely ask users to contact them via e-mail or text message.  They know if you use one of those methods there is no way for anyone to know what they are requesting of you and can manipulate however they choose.

So what did we learn?

  1. When possible use the  communications system built into the site.
  2. If something is too good to be true it always is.
  3. Use the "Report as Bad/Scam" option when necessary.

Updates This Week

Our team is constantly working to make the site better and easier to use.  This week we have a couple of changes that follow that philosophy.  Currently in the Gallery view you cannot see what city the listing is in unless you click on it.  That is about to change, check out the example below.

Transient

You will now be able to view your expired listings before you renew them.  This should save time for users who have multiple similar listings.

The biggest change for this week is the default distance setting.  When we rolled out the new look the default distance was set to 100 miles.  In retrospect this was not a good decision.  We have heard the feedback and we are pivoting.  After this update the default distance will be set to "Entire Country" for every user.  We apologize to those users who have manually changed their distance in their profile.  These users will need to change their setting once again but that should be the last time.

Our team is shooting for tomorrow night, Thursday at midnight to complete this update.  We are going to take advantage of this maintenance window to complete some more in depth back end server upgrades as well.  The site will be down from midnight to no later than 5am.  If you have any comments or questions send us an e-mail at info@discoverstuff.com, or check out our Facebook page and leave a comment.