Room to Rent? Car for sale? Look out for SMS spam

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Ad listing services are a great resource for individuals looking for roommates or selling vehicles, but they also provide contact information that spammers can use for targeted attacks. Cloudmark’s Spam Reporting Service for mobile messaging (SRS) is detecting misleading spam campaigns promoting the Roomster website, and trying to get auto sellers to sign up on fake vehicle history report sites. Roomster is a service that attempts to match people looking for roommates. They operate the website and provide mobile phone apps. They have a one star rating with the Better Business Bureau, which says:

Pattern of Complaint BBB files indicate a pattern of complaints concerning a renewal policy and deceptive advertising… consumers are alleging that Roomster or Roomster affiliates have been posting misleading ads on local Craigslist to drive users toward their website. These consumers say Roomster has been posting ads for roommate seekers, but those that try to contact the poster say that they are directed to Roomster’s website where one must pay a fee to retrieve messages from people supposedly looking for rooms/roommates.

Starting on November 23, 2018 SRS began to receive reports of SMS messages apparently responding to roommate ads.

Hi I Kayla saw your ad & I have room available. Well if you want to know about my room check my listing: Thanks.
Hi I am Julia interested in your place. Please first check out my all details here: & contact me.

The messages all used female names, and contained a link. The pages all redirect to Roomster operates an affiliate program that pays affiliates if they can persuade people to sign up for the service. Their affiliate page has a strong statement from the CEO against abusive advertising involving Craigslist.

Attention affiliates! We will not do business with any affiliates who post on Craigslist. We will not accept any leads that come from Craigslist. We will not pay for any leads that come from Craigslist. If you post on Craigslist your affiliate account will be terminated. December 15, 2017 We recently became aware that an affiliate(s) is either posting, emailing or texting people on Craigslist. This is not allowed. We have removed every affiliate who has been caught doing this in the past, and if we catch you we will remove your account. If you are doing this you must stop at once!!! We do not want this type of traffic. John S. Shriber CEO, ROOMSTER.

We contacted Roomster’s support via a form on their help page to let them know we were seeing SMS spam promoting their website, and offered to share details so that they could remove the affiliate responsible. Here’s the response we received:

We do not have any affiliation with other sites and do not have control over what Roomster members do or post while on other sites. We can only track links and emails that originate on the Roomster site.

We replied referencing the CEO’s statement on the affiliate page and asking to be put in contact with the person running their affiliate program. They replied:

Thank you for the feedback.

We remain willing to collaborate with Roomster if they wish to address this problem. The vehicle history report scam starts with someone who is selling a car getting a message expressing interest, but requesting that the seller get a report on the history of the vehicle. The message contains a link, either using a URL shortener, or to a URL on one of many domains owned by the spammers. The landing page offers a history report based on the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for about $15.

Hi. I am interested in the 2010 Chevrolet Traverse listed for 10,000. I want to see a national vehicle history report before we set up a meeting. I will appreciate if you could get it from and if the report is clean we will make a deal. I am a cash buyer from Upper peninsula
Alright nice, Can you grab a vehicle vin report from
Its the report which you as the owner can pull online by the way I am Frank.. can I get your name?

If the seller objects to paying for a report they may get a response like this.

Hey its not my vehicle to be running a report on. Your selling it and I should get the report? I am taking an unpaid day off from work and paying for a ride down. I dont think im being unreasonable and im not even negotiating the price or trying to waste your time. you can get it here for $15
its not my vehicle to be running a report on. You're selling it and I should get the report? I am taking a day off from work and paying for a ride to drive me down. I dont think its unreasonable to ask for the history of something you want thousands of dollars from me on..

Here’s a list of some of the domains we have detected (and blacklisted) from one of the operators of this scam. accuratevinscan [dot] com asapvincheckers [dot] com asapvinchecks [dot] com autovalidationsusa [dot] com autovalidationusa [dot] com beepbeeplocator [dot] com carlemonchecker [dot] com certifiedvinn [dot] com checkingvinn [dot] com easyvinchecks [dot] com easyvinhistory [dot] com elitecarfaxreport [dot] com elitevinlocator [dot] com elitevinncheck [dot] com goldvinn [dot] com lookupmyvin [dot] org myvinhistory [dot] com nowvinchecks [dot] com platinumvin [dot] com platinumvincheck [dot] com platinumvinncheck [dot] com premiumvinncheck [dot] com premiumvinnchecker [dot] com thevalidautoreports [dot] com thevinhistory [dot] com usaautovalidation [dot] com usaautovalidations [dot] com validautocheckusa [dot] com vincheckplatinums [dot] com vinchecksnow [dot] com vinelitecheck [dot] com vingoldcheck [dot] com vinnbackup [dot] com vinnchecksnow [dot] com vinnreportasap [dot] com vinreportasap [dot] com vinreportgold [dot] com vinreportsupreme [dot] com vinvalidations [dot] com This scam seems to have started about two years ago. A quick Google search will reveal several ways to get a free vehicle history report based on the VIN, so there is not need to pay for this service or to ask anyone else to.