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Craigslist Not Finding Most Scam Rental Listings, Study Shows

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Craigslist is not spotting more than half of the scam rental listings posted on their site, according to a new study from New York University.

Researchers at the school's Tandon School of Engineering found the San Francisco-based online classified site caught only 47 percent of listings that they determined were fake. Scam rental listings also stay on the site for a long time, with 40 percent of those ads remaining active and not flagged for 20 hours.

The study also determined the most common rental scams on Craigslist. One of the most common involves a scammer posting a fake apartment instructing a prospective renter to purchase a credit report. The scammer gets a referral commission.

Another scam involves scammers posting rental listings from other websites on Craigslist at a lower price, but scammers want a deposit wired to them. Researchers found most of these scams originate in Nigeria.

"We've shown that rental scams are often built on the same foundation—there are common templates, emails, IP addresses and other red flags that can be used to develop more sensitive detection techniques in the future," NYU assistant professor Damon McCoy, the study's lead author, said in a statement.

Researchers studied more than two million Craigslist rental postings in cities across the country, including San Francisco.

Craigslist warns users on their website to deal locally and face-to-face to avoid scammers.

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