Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Home rental scams

From the FBI, via Bruce Schneier:
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.


  1. Why is it always nigerians? Is there some legal or financial reason that its a good place to host an internet scam? Do they have particularly good internet infrastructure for a 3rd world nation? I certainly wouldn't think they'd just pretend to be from nigeria considering the reputation it has for being the source of these sorts of scams.

  2. But what if he is really a prince and you're going to rent out his palace.

  3. No kidding Kahner - doesnt everyone know that everything from nigeria is highly suspect by now? Why not set up shop in Tanzania, Cameroon, etc, and start the scam all over again?

  4. You have to pretty naive to rent a place without not checking it out in the presence of a real estate agent or its owner.

  5. Something similar happened to me... I didn't fell for it though.
    The bad english tipped me off. The owners of the apartment claimed to be Canadian aid workers, and they said that they were in Africa for a year for a mission.

    I filled out on application, and emailed it to them. They said I qualified... I'm not sure whether they asked for a check or for money to be wired ... but then for some reason, I looked at the DC property database and I found out that they were not the owners of the apartment.

    I called the actual owners and they were completely mystified by my call.

  6. "I filled out on application, and emailed it to them."

    yeah instead of money, they just have your social security number, address, phone number and drivers license number! Lucky you didn't fall for that one!!

  7. I didn't give them my social security number. I don't give that out to anyone in person.

    They have my name, phone number, address, and income... Yeah that sucks, but what are you going to do about it.

  8. i've seen this multiple times. the person has a normal looking email address when they write back too, in my case,

    it's obviously a scam but i can see how people may want to fall for it, as it is usually a good/great rental price.
    when i emailed though, my only question was, what is the rental price, 1800 or 2400, as it included both in the description.

  9. "I didn't give them my social security number."

    I assumed you have, because most places that rent out their home do a credit check on the tenant. Anyway good for you.