ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a consumer alert on Wednesday urging New Yorkers to protect themselves from fraud after an increase in complaints about Craigslist rental scams.
Schneiderman's office noted a major rise in reports from New Yorkers who fell victim or were almost victims to scams luring consumers into paying security deposits for properties advertised on Craigslist, only to find that the listings were fake. Victims in the scams have lost between $200 and $6,000.
"While these offers look appealing, prospective renters must have a critical eye when applying for rental properties on sites like Craigslist," Schneiderman said.
"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, which is why it's important that New Yorkers are educated and alerted about these scams before they strike."
The scam works in several different ways, he says.
The scammers can use multiple listing services of realtors to find properties that are legitimately for rent or sale. They then take the information, alter the contact information and offer a drastically lower price than the original listing.
Scammers will often offer a telephone number without voicemail that functions, causing the possible renter to contact the scammer via e-mail. The e-mails from the scammers are usually poorly written and can indicate that the alleged owner is on a humanitarian mission in another country. The e-mails then ask for a deposit to be wired in exchange for a key to the property.