by Sara 

Mom and son nearly hoodwinked in rental scam


By Steven Smalley

Nigerian scam artists are working this neighborhood again, this time with a bogus home-to-rent ad on Craigslist, a Magnolia mom and her adult son say. ?

The online ad recently listed a Magnolia house for rent at $500 per month. The mom, who did not want her name made public, saw the ad and thought it was a typo. If anything, it should have read $1,500, based on what it offered and its location. So she answered the ad on behalf of her 21-year-old son.

?Might be too good to be true, but why not check it out,? she thought.?

Through an online ?application,? the mother emailed her personal information to an overseas location.

She got suspicious when the person who listed the ad replied with stories about the homeowner living in Poland and/or on a Christian mission in Nigeria. The name of the actual Seattle property owner was used in all correspondence.

?I drove by,? to take a look at the supposedly empty house on West Lynn Street, she explained. ?Someone was living there. I saw a Christmas tree.?

Her suspicion went a long way, especially after she was asked to send a deposit to a foreign country.

?Definitely don’t send money. Be cautious. Do not give personal information too soon like we did,? she warned.

The actual homeowner, who resides in Ballard, had no idea his name and Magnolia house were being used in a scam.

?It?s a shame someone almost fell for it,? he remarked. ?Luckily no money changed hands.?

Additionally he advised, ?With Craigslist, you have to be extra careful of scammers.?

Seattle Police Department also has warnings on Nigerian Letter Scams and Identity theft. SPD?s website contains the following:

Nigerian Letter Scam Prevention tips:

Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or other foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.

Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.

Do not give out any personal information regarding your savings, checking, credit, or other financial accounts.

If you are solicited, do not respond. Quickly notify the appropriate authorities.

For more on SPD?s Identity Theft Prevention click here.

About the author 


  1. Thanks to all who report scams – makes us all aware of the various schemes out there.

    I feel Craig’s List gets a bad rap sometimes, they provide a great service in so many areas.

    Keep up the good work Magnolia Voice – we do care what goes on here!

  2. I want to be kind in my comment, but it does make one pause for thought that they gave them their “information” and got so far as a deposit!!! Come ON!

    1. They were lucky- my 22 yr old daughter wasn’t as lucky.? She and her friend?were?taken for $500 is a similar scam last Sept.? I’m glad someone is speaking out on this, warning others.

  3. this scam is very common and has been going on for years on craigslist in all the major cities

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