Police: Nigerian scammers try to rent out home for sale in West York
YORK, Pa., Apr 19, 2012 (York Daily Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Scam artists from Nigeria went to great lengths to try to rent out a property in West York that was actually for sale, according to borough police Chief Justin Seibel.
However, they didn't count on the home sitting nearby the police department, nor that police are friendly with the homeowner, Seibel said.
Seibel said that, earlier this week, someone walked into the department after seeing an item on Craigslist.com, placed by a homeowner, looking for tenants for a home on Sumner Street.
The "homeowner" wanted $1,300 for the first month's rent and a security deposit, and asked that the money be sent by Western Union to an address in Nigeria.
The ad also featured photos -- which police believe were taken from the home's real estate listing -- and a fake email address for the owner.
"They also urge the potential renter to drive by the residence and look at the neighborhood, but they are unable to show them the inside because of scheduling conflicts," the news release states.
It also said that the "For Sale" signs outside the home should be ignored and would be taken down.
"We had a good idea" the ad was a scam, Seibel said.
Police's investigation began with Seibel looking out one of the windows in the department and seeing that the for-sale signs were still in front of the home.
Next, an officer from the department traced the ad's origin back to a website from Nigeria, he said.
"We contacted Craigslist, but it's (the ad) still up; we're going to recontact them," Seibel said.
Seibel said he was not aware that anyone had actually fallen for this particular scam, but he wanted to get the word out.
"They wouldn't be doing it if people weren't falling for it," he said.
He also offered an adage as some advice: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
West York Borough Police offered some tips on detecting possible scams:
--- If looking for a home to rent, be sure to contact the landlord at least by phone -- never through email only.
--- Don't agree to renting a property without first seeing the property with the landlord. Chances are if the person cannot show the property, he or she is not the lawful owner.
--- Never send money by Western Union, PayPal or other similar services to someone outside of the state or country.
--- Never give out personal information -- like your name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, account information or credit card information -- to someone online or over the phone.
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