Online realty listings bring out Craigslist scam in Indy

Woman wired money to 'landlord' in Nigeria

INDIANAPOLIS - A northwest Indianapolis woman has fallen victim to a Craigslist real estate scam that has prompted FBI warnings around the country.

The 26-year-old, who lives near West 62nd Street and Michigan Road, told Indianapolis police that she responded to a Craigslist ad offering a rental home off North Riley Avenue on the east side.

She called two different phone numbers that police recognized as coming from a Nigerian area code, and the woman said she spoke to a man who claimed to be the owner of the property. The victim told police he claimed he was a missionary, presently working in Nigeria.

After she sent him a Western Union wire transfer for $300, the victim said he stopped answering her calls.

The FBI has posted warnings about Craigslist rental real estate scams in other parts of the country, dating back to 2009. Agents said Nigerian scam artists typically look for legitimate rental home listings on real estate websites, especially those that use real brokers and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database.

In the case that was reported to Indianapolis police this week, the home on North Riley Avenue is actually listed for rent at $695 per month on several legitimate real estate websites that utilize the MLS database.

The FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center reports the information and photographs from those legitimate listings are often taken by scammers anywhere in the world, and then posted on Craigslist to steal money from unsuspecting victims in search of a rental home.

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