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Latest Craigslist Scam - Identity Thieves Stealing Your Seller’s Identity to Create Fake Email

Stop me if you've heard this before. You list a house or condo for sale. You begin to receive phone calls from people who are responding to "your" rental listing on Craigslist. You may even catch some potential tenants peeking into the windows who insist that the property is for rent at a ridiculously low price. It turns out that a scammer has taken your listing info and even cut and pasted your photos of the property onto Craigslist. The scammer claims to be on sabbatical or working for a charity in Africa or a foreign country, then convinces a mark who is naïve, foolish or desperate enough to wire rent and a security deposit to the scammer in exchange for a key to a rental that does not exist.

Now there's a new twist.

The scammer finds the name of the owner of the property – your seller – in public records and steals the true owner's identity to create a fake email address like johndoe@yahoo.com. If a potential tenant is savvy enough to look up the owner's name in an assessor's or other database, the tenant may fall for this scam because the database and email address will appear to match. Click here to read a scammer's response to a potential tenant. Names and addresses have been changed but all of the typos have been left intact.

What should you do to avoid having your listing turned into a scam? Check the Craigslist Housing section weekly to see whether any of your listings have been posted. http://providence.craigslist.org/ Whom can I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

Craigslist - If you suspect that an item posted for sale on craigslist may be part of a scam, please email the details to "abuse@craigslist.org". Be sure to include the URL (or eight-digit post ID number) in your message. Craigslist also recommends that you contact the following:

  • FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
  • FTC online complaint form (www.ftc.gov)
  • Internet Fraud Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov)
  • The non-emergency number for your local police department

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