Nigerian perpetrators are on the prowl again. It was recently reported that scammers are taking on the identity of homeowners and swindling victims out of their money. This week, a MD resident reported a Craigslist’s advertisement that appeared suspicious. After thorough investigation, his intuitions were correct.
During an interview, the resident disclosed the attempted scam: He noticed a 4-bedroom home with a garage for rent on Craigslist. Located in a ritzy neighborhood near downtown Silver Spring, MD, its value was over $400,000. Yet, the requested rent was only $900/m with a $700 security deposit.
The resident contacted the pseudo owner via e-mail and was provided with an application. He then completed and returned it. Shortly afterwards, the pseudo owner informed the resident that he was in Indiana on business and would be there for 3 years. He could not show the property to him at this time. He, however, loved the application and wanted to rent the home to him as soon as possible.
The signs were still in the yard because the Realtor was not aware of his decision to rent the home. He didn't want the Realtor to inflate the prices. “He claimed to be a man of God and did not believe in making things hard for people to afford. I almost trusted him,” stated the resident. “His concern was the care of the house.”
Upon receipt of the deposit, the keys and house documents would be mailed to the resident. He closed the message by providing strange contact numbers: +234-816-829-7368 and 011-234-816-829-7368. Little did the scammer know that providing these phone numbers was another clue into the fraudulent activity.
In this situation, the pictures were accurate but the information was false. Fortunately, the MD resident investigated the case prior to sending any money to this person. Needless to say, the phone numbers were traced to Nigeria.
Consumers should be aware if:
· The Realtor is unable to show you the property
· You are asked to wire money
· The e-mail is written using poor English
· The rent is significantly lower than the market rate
· You are asked to provide social security, bank information, etc.
These types of scams are occurring more frequently, and consumers must take action to help put an end to these unlawful acts. If you find any suspicious activity taking place, contact your local authorities.