People Are Actually Still Falling For Online Money-Wiring Scams
If you wire money to some stranger who sent you an email promising a large sum of cash if you just cough up some sort of initial payment, you're an idiot. There, we said it.
That said, people are still falling for these types of online money wiring scams, and a new one has caught the attention of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The latest online money wiring scam involves Craigslist ads for apartment rentals. The way it works, according to Schneiderman, is a scammer will post an ad on Craigslist for an apartment they're renting. The scammer will offer the apartment for a much lower rate than the apartment would normally be rented for, and advise potential renters that they need to pounce on the great deal and wire a deposit to the "renter" ASAP.
The problem, however, is the person advertising the apartment has no authority to rent it to anyone, and that deposit you wired is long gone.
Schneiderman says people in New York have been swindled out of anywhere from $200 to $6,000.
"While these offers look appealing, prospective renters must have a critical eye when applying for rental properties on sites like Craigslist," Schneiderman says. "Remember the simple adage, if it looks and sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many of the scams originate overseas, making prosecution at the state or local levels impossible..."
Schneiderman offered up the following anecdotes to illustrate his point:
Syracuse - A realtor discovered scammers had used his "house for sale listing" as a "house for rent" listing on Craigslist. The realtor only realized what happened when people contacted him using the phone number on the for sale sign in front of his house to inquire about the rental.
Watertown - A Fort Drum service member almost fell victim to a Craigslist rental scam and was on her way to wire the security deposit money when she was alerted by our office that it was a scam. Had there not been a delay as the consumer waited to transfer funds from one account to another, the Attorney General's office would not have been able to get to her in time. As part of the work of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Bureau, an investigator had been corresponding with the Craigslist scammer when the scammer inadvertently forwarded the victim's contact information to the staffer, who was then able to alert the would-be victim before it was too late.
Poughkeepsie - A resident lost $2,600 in a Craigslist rental scam. She responded to an ad looking for a roommate. The scammer told the consumer that she was temporarily working out of the country but would be moving back shortly. The scammer convinced the renter that she needed assistance in making arrangements to move back. She sent fake checks to the victim and asked her to forward the money to other people who were allegedly helping her move. The renter was promised $100 for her troubles. In the end, the bogus checks did not clear by the bank and the consumer ended up owing the money.
Buffalo - A family looking to relocate to New York City found a listing for an apartment on Craigslist. They were required to put down nearly $6,000 for first and last month's rent and security. When they arrived in New York City, they discovered their new home was actually an abandoned warehouse.
The AG urges anyone who feel like they've a victim of this type of scam or any other type of consumer fraud, contact his office's consumer helpline at (800) 771-7755.
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