Anatomy of a Craigslist scam
As many of you know, Mrs. Stew and I have been looking for another place to rent. We are not in a hurry, but we are consistently checking the ads to see what is available in our price range. In the course of looking on craigslist.com, we have happened upon some fishy offers, including one scam. I figured out that it was a scam pretty quickly, but I emailed the scammer for a bit just for kicks. I thought that readers might be interested in reading the responses from the con artist.
What first caught my eye was the fact that the home was listed for about $500 under the market price for similar properties – that was my first tip. I then realized that I had seen the exact same property listed for double the price on another website by a different property manager. Still, on the outside chance that the offer was legitimate, I emailed the poster through the craigslist website:
Hello, I saw your West Center Avenue property listed in Craigslist and wondered if I could get some more information, please email me back
Here is the first response from “Tim”:
Thanks for your interest in my house. I am a professional piano/music theory teacher, I’m easy going and friendly. I like Music and have deep interests in traveling. I respect every religion and love to hang around with people and i am definitely not a trouble maker and very helpful in nature. I am currently living in Nigerian due to my transfer and I will be here for as long as 6 years, that is why am renting out my house. The house is located at: #### West Center Avenue, L——– CO 8##### .This 3 bedroom and 2.5 bathrooms residence. Kitchen is bright and cherry with all wood cabinets and plenty of counter space. Open dining room and large living room.
All bedrooms are nice sizes. Master bedroom offers two separate closets which allows for plenty of clothes! Garage can be used as extra space, workshop or as, of course, a garage. There is plenty of space for a vegetable garden and a separate fenced area for pets. Some landscaping with perennials and mature bushes and trees. Fresh paint throughout. The Rent is $700 monthly including utilities and $600 for Security deposit. The house is available for long term and short term lease is acceptable. The building is in a great location situated in the quiet and safe area and offers secure access. internet, cable, laundry in-suite, storage facilities, heat, water, electric and parking is included in the rent and pet are allowed.
I had a Realtor company help me get a tenant, but they were handling things too professionally and were extorting the tenants, so i took the job of their hands and tried doing this my self, but couldn’t find any tenant while I was still in the state as at last week. so as a matter of urgency for my travel, I do not want my home to be misused in my absence, I decided to take the keys and documents along with me. So I hope you will promise me to take very good care of the house always. I really do need to get a very well-behaved person to take occupancy of my house and take good care of it for me.
So get back to us as soon as you can so we can send you the application form.
Waiting to hear from you soon.
Tim J M——— Call us for more information: ############
I love how he pretty much just quotes the original ad copy. Why are these guys always from Nigeria? Are there no con artists in other African countries? Is Nigeria the only country with internet access? I was certain that I was not dealing with an honest guy by this point, but I was interested in seeing how long he would go. I briefly considered calling him, but I was not interested in paying for an international phone call. So I simply said:
Tim, we are quite interested in this house, but I saw another listing that had it for $1,400 per month rent . . . this looks like a scam, but if it isn’t, we are interested
His response where he explains away the price discrepancy and attempts to respond to my calling his ad a “scam”:
Thank you for getting back to me as soon as you can.Yes the price you saw was the price that was put by the Realtor we were working with before but we no longer want to work with them again.I understand you perfectly and i also understand your concern but I want you to know something and it’s true like the bible said”The truth and only the Truth shall set you free,thus says the lord of host”.I’m telling you the truth now as a dedicated Christian is against my doctrine to rip people off their money which they labored so hard for, i did not leave my home all the way to Africa here to rip people off any one money.I am not writing this email for you to change your mind about me but I just have to clear up my prestige.I do everything possible to imitate the Lord,I will never do anything to hurt anyone in this Life.My word is My Bond,when I say Yes,its definitely Yes.So get back if interested in our home.
Okay, sounds good. Is there a time when we can come by and look at the property?
His answer cracked me up:
Yes you can go drive by the home as soon as you can and get back to me so i can forward you the application form.
My last note to which he never responded.
Okay, are you on facebook or do you have a website where I can check to see if you are a real person? Is there a way for us to see the inside of the house?
I was a little disappointed because I was hoping to get him to send me the application form so I could look at it. Have you stumbled across any Craigslist scams?
Photo by o5com