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Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News

As the city's busy tourism stretch continues, fans from Virginia Tech and Michigan have taken over the French Quarter ahead of Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl.

'It's been about 20 years since I've been to New Orleans,' said one fan. 'It brings back some good memories.'

However, with so many visitors expected in the city over the next couple months, con artists may be trying to cash in through an alleged scam on the popular classifieds website, Craigslist.

The alleged scam targets tourists who are looking to rent homes or apartments in the city for a few days.

As the scheme unfolds, a victim sends in a deposit, only to learn the address listed was never actually for rent, or in some cases, doesn't even exist.

Will McKinnon, from Washington, DC, said it almost happened to him.

McKinnon began noticing red flags while following up on a rental listing for this year's Mardi Gras.

'I actually found the house that was pictured (in the ad), but it was on the wrong side of the street from the address in the contract,' he said, referring to his search for the house using Google street view.

At that point, McKinnon said he decided to check the property tax records on the listed address.

'(I checked) to see if the property tax records matched up with the name of the person asking for the check and they didn't.'

McKinnon never sent the money, but others have fallen for it, according to Meg Lousteau with Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates.

'We've had numerous reports,' she said.

Lousteau said the reports have come from victims and residents whose addresses were used in the scheme.

'We had one (resident) who was at home and somebody was trying to stick a key into her door to get access to the house, because somebody had mailed the potential renter a key and given them an address that, of course, exists, but wasn't really for rent,' she said.

Lousteau points out -- it's actually illegal to rent out homes, apartments or condos in the city for fewer than 30 days.

In the French Quarter, it's a 60 day minimum.

Increased enforcement of the law, Lousteau believes, could help put a dent in any online rental scams.

Meanwhile, Mark Romig with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., said tourists should be careful when planning trips.

'We think you should only go to bonafide websites and we're suggesting that people go to those name websites, you know, the hotels and motels that they know,' he said.

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