Home Columbia Press Releases 2009 New Nigerian Scheme Utilizing Craigslist

New Nigerian Scheme Utilizing Craigslist
Scam Being Perpetrated in South Carolina

FBI Columbia July 22, 2009
  • Public Affairs Specialist Denise Taiste (803) 551-4200

David A. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in South Carolina, advises homeowners and/or prospective renters in South Carolina to be cautious of a new scheme being perpetrated by Nigerians utilizing Craigslist.

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.

David A. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Columbia office of the FBI, is requesting that individuals who have complaints similar to this file an Internet crime complaint on www.ic3.gov with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ensure the extent of this scheme can be accurately evaluated.