The office of Santa Barbara County District Attorney Christie Stanley has issued a warning of a scam targeting would-be renters. Some apartment hunters responding to Craigslist classifieds in Santa Barbara and Goleta have been informed, after making email contact, that the property owners are presently out of the country - usually in Nigeria or elsewhere in western Africa - and asked to complete a rental application in order to complete the transaction. The applications ask for information usable for identity and asset theft.
The DA’s April 3 press release advised apartment hunters to consider it a red flag if landlords stay out of reach by refusing to give phone numbers or contact information; and never to wire money to an unfamiliar person or company in order to rent property. Would-be renters can find out who owns property at the Santa Barbara County Clerk-Recorder’s office.
Consumers who have encountered such scams can report them to the site where they are posted, and may also file complaints with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.