Beware the Nigerian Landlord Scam

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Perpetuating his country's unfortunate association with internet scams, a Nigerian man has turned to a new source for ill-gotten money: home renters.

No tall tales of fake Nigerian royalty or bogus inheritances this time; the latest scam simply solicits deposit and rent money from unsuspecting renters. The catch? The "landlord" doesn't own the home.

Memphis, Tenn., resident Howard French found that out that hard way when he wired $1,200 to a man in Nigeria who had advertised a house for rent on Craigslist. The "owner" claimed to be in Africa on humanitarian work, and an unsuspecting French took him at his word when the too-good-to-be-true rental deal came along.

It's not a one-man show, either. Several bogus ads have been spotted on Craigslist, where scammers repurpose legitimate ads with their own contact information. The scam is apparently gaining traction in the Mid-South, where the FBI is working to spread the word to help protect others from sharing in French's unfortunate lesson.

If you run across a similarly suspicious ad, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
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