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Forum staff reports, Published June 20 2012

Fargo police say online scammer offered city-owned buyout house for rent

FARGO – Police officials are warning residents here about an online home rental scam, in which an out-of-state individual reportedly sought to lease a flood buyout home in Fargo.

According to a news release from Fargo Deputy Chief Pat Claus:

A resident contacted Fargo city planners in reference to renting a home at 4332 Timberline Dr. S. in Fargo.

The home, purchased by the city for flood mitigation, is for sale. It is not for rent.

In talking with the resident, city officials determined the home was being advertised on the internet as available for rent by a person identifying himself as Vernon Newman of California.

The unidentified website advertising the rental has since removed the home from its listings.

During an e-mail conversation, Newman asked the resident to send the first month’s rent via Moneygram, a money transfer service, in the name of a third party.

The resident, having already contacted the city and being aware of the scheme, forwarded the information to the Fargo Police Department instead.

The Fargo Police Department has seen similar fraudulent attempts to rent property in the past.

Officials want to remind the public to avoid Internet sales where the only contact is via email and prepayment is required, especially if payment is made through a money transfer service.