housing market in Kodiak being so tight and rents so extremely high, a
seemingly good deal could turn into an international financial nightmare.
like overseas scammers are targeting Alaska's toughest housing market by impersonating
the owners of buildings for sale and rent in Kodiak at very low prices. So low
in fact that one ad on Craigslist prompted a local man to alert local real
estate agent Bob Brodie that it may be a scam - which it was: The scammer asked
many personal questions and for cash to be wired to her. In this case the
scammer asked for $2,200, which was for one month's rent and a refundable
something like this before, Brodie contacted Police Chief T.C. Kamai.
"We did a little bit of research and determined it was
an actual scam," Kamai said. "It's not anything new. It's something that's been on the radar
since about 2008, 2009, and the best we can tell it's a variation of the
Nigerian letter scam, if you're familiar with that."
so-called "owner" of the house on Rezanof near the middle school said in an
e-mail that they had been transferred to Madrid, Spain, on business, and just
wanted someone to take care of the place. The Craigslist offering listed the
three-bedroom, two-bath house, with all utilities included, for the low-low price
of $1,100 per month. The poor syntax and punctuation of the scammer's e-mail
was the first clue there was something amiss, but it was the smokin' hot deal
that really rang the alarm bells.
"Exactly, and that's what our concern was. As most
folks know it can be really tough to find a place to rent in this town these
days," the chief said. "A good deal like that might entice some people to follow through. This
was an opportunity to educate the public and we don't want to have anyone lose
their money on the scams, so we wanted to make them aware of it."
in an e-mail that he has seen several homes that are legitimately for sale or
rent in Kodiak used in Craigslist scams like this. He said the scammers must be
pretty sophisticated to research homes for sale in a small town like Kodiak, and
then put area-specific ads on Craigslist.