Note to Readers: in my post Aug. 20, Hijacked Listings, I discussed the practice of scammers using homes listed for sale to snare unsuspecting, would-be renters. The information below is from the home page of the Multiple Listing Service (“MLS”). While it’s addressed to Realtors, the follow-up steps are relevant for anyone who may be affected by this scam.
Craigslist Rental Scam Targets the Area
There is a rental scam using craigslist that has targeted some properties listed for sale on NorthstarMLS. Property information and photos are taken by criminals from public broker/agent Web sites and then listed as a rental home through a Craigslist classified ad at an unbelievably low rate. The landlord-who had to leave the country and travel to Nigeria-asks that you wire him two months’ worth of rent. You arrive at the home on the agreed-upon date, but there’s just one small problem-the house is not actually for rent and its owners know nothing about your agreement. This latest scam being perpetrated by Nigerian criminals located halfway around the world has been seen in a number of U.S. states, perhaps in response to the current housing market-with fewer people buying, more people are renting.
What to do if your listing is a victim of this scam
Email the details to email@example.com. Be sure to include the URL (or 10-digit post ID number) in your message. For further recommendations, check out the craigslist page on who to notify about fraud attempts. You may also report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center to help them determine the extent of the problem.