I posted this clip, from the FBI (Colombia, SC), to alert people to a Nigerian scheme that targets homeowners and/or prospective renters. Currently the scheme is in operation in the South Carolina area; however, it will be a matter of time before it expands to other areas and/or evolves further into something similar, but using different tactics.
This is an excellent example of how the criminal element uses the internet to trick people. As I have always said; “believe nothing and verify everything”. Many people believe that the internet is that higher authority that can be trusted. It is everything but that!
A “What’s On My PC…” Web Clip!
July 22, 2009
New Nigerian Scheme Utilizing Craigslist
Scam Being Perpetrated in South Carolina
Homeowners list their homes for sale with real estate agents, who will list the homes for sale in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and also with public search websites, which allow individuals to query homes for sale via the Internet. Nigerian scammers find homes listed for sale on these public search sites, copy the pictures and listings verbatim, and then post the information onto Craigslist under available housing rentals, without the consent or knowledge of Craigslist, who has been notified.
After the posting is listed, unsuspecting individuals contact the poster, who is Nigerian, for more information on the “rental.” The Nigerian scammer will state that they had to leave the country very quickly to do missionary or contract work in Africa and were unable to rent their house before leaving, therefore they have to take care of this remotely. The “homeowner” sends the prospective renter an application and tells them to send them first and last month’s rent to the Nigerian scammer via Western Union. The prospective renter is further told If they “qualify,” they will send them the keys for their house. Once the money is wired to the scammer, they show up at the house, see the home is actually for sale, are unable to access the property, and their money is gone.
This type of Nigerian scam is becoming more prevalent nationwide and recent reports indicate this scam being perpetrated locally in Charleston, Columbia, and Hilton Head, South Carolina. The South Carolina Association of REALTORS®, a non-profit trade association, provided information to the FBI on this scam.