ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The St. Louis Circuit Attorney recently made public a Craigslist rental scam in the Southampton neighborhood. The potential victim had listed her home with a real estate company but an unsuspecting man, looking to rent the house, showed up at the woman’s door. The woman called police and it was determined it was a scam emanating from Nigeria.

Craigslist and other online transaction websites are an increasingly popular tool in the arsenal of St. Louis scam artists.

“There will be a couple of Craigslist incidents that happen through the course of the year but I have not seen any connection between those,” St. Louis Chief of Police Sam Dotson says. “They’re criminals who prey on people who sometimes are a little too trusting.”

To fight such crime, the St. Louis Police Department has a cyber crimes unit, with seven commissioned officers focusing on hacking and child pornography. According to Dotson, that’s enough.

“I always wish I had a few more officers to do a few more jobs but currently it’s supervised by a sergeant, two cyber crimes investigators, two intellectual property theft investigators, and two forensic examiners,” the police chief says. “We use detectives from our cyber crimes unit and other units to address crimes and investigations that may be internet-based. So do I see a need to expand it to do more work? No. Do I think the officers there do a great job? I absolutely do.”

Instead, Dotson urges St. Louis internet users to simply be more aware.

“I think it’s just like any other crime or any other theft. I think what you have to do is you have to be smart. We tell you to part smart and not leave your wallet laying on the seat and not to leave your valuables in plain sight. The same thing goes for the internet,” he says. “When you engage in a transaction on the internet, know who’s on the other side of that, whether it’s Craigslist or eBay.”


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