Anatomy of a Rental Scam

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On a regular basis we get contacted by people looking for rental properties on CraigsList. The VAST majority of time they are calling us about properties that are not listed by our brokerage. (Why? People Google addresses and this site comes up frequently in those searches. We have info on almost every Phoenix home listed for sale, even if we aren’t the listing brokerage.)

Many times the “For Rent” listing on CraigsList is legit. A *lot* of people look for rental properties on CraigsList so a *lot* of landlords and property management companies advertise rental properties there. Makes perfect sense.

Sadly however, there are scammers out there attempting to take advantage of people — more precisely, attempting to steal money from them by claiming they have a rental property for lease when they don’t.

Last week, we were contacted about a rental listing on CraigsList. As is usual, it wasn’t our listing. The person interested in the property expressed concern that the email address used on the CraigsList ad was different than anything she found elsewhere on the internet. She thought it might be a scam.

Turns out, she was correct.

I’ve always been curious how these scams work, so I thought it might be educational (and yes, fun too) to see what would happen if I replied to the ad as a potential tenant.

What follows are the actual email exchanges I had with the scammer.

OF NOTE: This post is not intended to slam CraigsList in any way. As already mentioned, there are many legitimate rental ads on CraigsList. And CraigsList does a good job warning people of these scammers. At the top of every CraigsList rental add is this statement, highlighted, and in red text:

Avoid scams and fraud by dealing locally! Beware any arrangement involving Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, or a landlord/owner who is out of the country or cannot meet you in person. More info

That “more info” link contains several “common-sense rules” to avoid being scammed, including three rules that if ANY ONE of them were followed, this particular scam would never work:

  • DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts on craigslist.
  • NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service – anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
  • DO NOT RENT HOUSING WITHOUT SEEING THE INTERIOR, OR PURCHASE EXPENSIVE ITEMS SIGHT-UNSEEN - in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.
Sadly, there must be people that don’t heed these common-sense rules CraigsList provides, and fall victim to rental scams like this.
Here is my first email response to the ad:

Hi! I’m interested in the property you have listed for rent on CraigsList – at XXXX West XXXX Drive
Can you tell me more about it?  How much is security deposit, length of lease. Is the house also listed for sale?
Any additional info you can provide would be appreciated!

Within a couple of hours, this was the response I received:

Hello,

We are pleased that you have an interest in our house, Our lovely home is still available for lease and we want responsible adults/family who are neat and also believe that they have what it takes to take care of our house as if it were theirs. My wife and I initially had it up for sale but had a change of mind in leasing it out ourselves because the agent that was in charge of our rental property was asking too much of an agent fee and also making it difficult for people who cannot afford the rent, stay away from renting my house.

The reason why our house is up for lease is because I got transferred from my place of work to HOUSTON,TX , I will be away with my family for at least 4 to 5 years because of the love I have for them, I have decided not to sell our house and also assuring them that we only have few years to spend here and will be willing to lease it out to person/family who is willing to assure us of taking absolute care of our home and pay their rent on time. I will start by telling you more in regards me and my family. I have a daughter named Leslie (20yrs) who attends University of HOUSTON,TX as a medical student, she has a lot going for her and she is also down to earth in all that she does to keep us happy and when she is back home on vacation, she also assist her mom in the house work when am at work. I work as a Robotic Programmer & Welder/Fitter here in HOUSTON,TX  and got married to a lovely wife who is a member of Joyce Meyer Ministries .

We will be very pleased if we can find the right tenant to rent our home, a person who is a clean freak and does not tolerate anything that has to do with dirt… we also would like to know more about you and your family, your renting experience and how long and when you plan moving into our home. These 3 bedrooms and 2 baths home are very specious and neat.2,631 sqft

Monthly Fee ; $950

Security Deposit: $950

Pets Allowed: YES

Available :Available Now for move in.

So pls get back to me today.

I await your reply ASAP.

The rental fee is inclusive with utilities and my home available as at this moment.

God Bless You.

Note there is no mention of payment method, but they do address my question asking if the home is currently listed for sale (which it IS). Damn those real estate agents asking for too much in fees!

My response:

Thank you for the additional information. My wife and I both have good jobs and credit, and would take good care of your home. We’ve lived in the Phoenix area for several years and our landlord is raising the rent on us a lot, despite that we’ve never had a late payment. Our lease here ends on Nov 30, so we’re looking to move very soon.

We have two children, ages 18 and 14. The 18 year old is moving out on his own, and the 14 year old is in her senior year of high school and will be attending a local university, but living on campus next year. So by next August, it will just be my wife and I living in the home.

How can we make arrangements to see the house?

I’m a little concerned though as I think this home is located in an age restricted area? Is that correct?

I thought maybe saying that we had a 14 year old senior in high school might make them question the validity of my inquiry. And the home IS in an age-restricted community, so I was interested to hear how they would respond to that…

Hello,

We are very pleased that you wrote us regarding our home. I also had other people writing me requesting that they rent my property less than a year which I do not support. I want anyone renting my house to at least rent for a year or more. We have also made it known to anyone renting our home that our objectives are making sure that the house is kept clean and neat. Utilities include Electricity, water, gas while appliances includes refrigerator, Stove, microwave, dishwasher, Washer/Dryer, Garbage etc…. I initially wrote you that we had plans of selling our house but had a change in mind to lease it out since we will not be staying more than 5 years.

I really know that God has lead me to a wonderful family like yours, as we are planning on selling our home initially thinking that no one can take care of our home when we are gone but with the help of my wife, we are able to think properly before selling our home and have found out that renting it will be the best option for us as we plan on coming back to our lovely home. You have also said a lot that pleases us and we have also seen how wonderful you and your family can be when you move into our home. My concerns has been solved by you and we believe that all you said should be done the right way in ensuring that we trust you of becoming our tenant. We also plan on making our tenant family friends when they move in.

If all arrangement goes well, we will have the entrance keys and other relevant document in a hard copy paper shipped to your present home address for you to move in at your convenient date. Our home is beautiful and need no amendments. All you have to do is bring in your belongings and maintain the utilities for us. We also have Internet cable in our home as we speak, and will like you to take absolute care of our house when you move in. As soon as you get back to me I will be attaching a rental application form for you to fill and get back to us with your information so that we can know you better.

God Bless You.

Hmmm, the 14 year old senior didn’t seem to phase them, and there was absolutely zero response to my questions of how we might be able to see the home, and whether or not is is located in an age-restricted community. But hey, we’ll be friends!

My next email follows. Total elapsed time since first contact = 15 hours.

Please send the rental application form. We are interested in a long term lease. In fact, if we were to pay for an entire year of rent up front (and possibly two years), would it be possible to get a reduction in the rent payment?

How can we see the house? Is it in an age-restricted community?

The almost immediate response was:

My family and I are presently here in Houston, TX and will be very pleased if we have the opportunity in showing you around my house without you asking, but as you can see we are not around to do so as we have made all arrangement base on trust in ensuring that we have a Christian and reliable home take possession of our rental property while we are gone. If you can take a tour to see the exterior part of my house and its environment that will be lovely as we have set aside a way in getting the keys and other relevant duplicate document shipped to your present home address once you have been approved as our tenant. Hope you understand where we are coming from.

So no, we can’t see the home other than via a drive-by. And still no answer to the question about the home being in an age-restricted community. My guess is they have no idea what that means, so they are ignoring it. Also note they failed to address my question about a reduced rent by paying in advance. This one surprised me as I thought they would jump all over getting a larger payment. And still no mention of how payment is to be made. No rental application was attached.

Several hours later, I received this email:

Hello,

Attached is the Rental Application form, fill it and get back to us with it the application form via email asap, I can see your willingness in leasing our home and hope we will never have regrets in leasing our home to you.I want you to also know that we will let you stay in our home till the period of time you wish to as long as you pay up your rent on time.  We also want you to know that the rent fee covers the utilities, you can use them and take proper care of our home.

All we ask for is making sure you fill the rental application form properly so that we can approve you as our tenant, we will also advise you secure our home by paying for a refundable security deposit so that we can take our house off market and let other renters not to contact us anymore for the same house you are about renting.

Here are the contents of the package that will be shipped to your present home address via a courier service upon receiving your application form filled by you.

1) Entrance and the rooms Keys

2) Paper/Permanent House form (Containing your reference details)

3) The duplicate of the House documented file.

4) Payment Receipt.

Remain Blessed.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Although they’ve completely blown of my multiple questions about age restriction and paying in advance, I went ahead and filled out the “application”. Here is what I sent them:

Now hopefully it is readily apparent to anyone out there that you should never send potential scammers personal information. (I’ve also been using a throw-away email address throughout this entire process.) So I took a little liberty with the rental app.

My name is not Jay T. Leno.
All phone numbers are actually to pay phones on the ASU campus.
My date of birth is not 6/31/1964. In fact, there are not 31 days in June…
My children are not named “Skippy” and “Betty Lou”. And they weren’t born in 1976 and 2009. Recall I told the scammer my kids were 18 and 14, not 35 and 2…
I have two dogs, not 3. And I do not own a python or miniature horse.
44 N. 32nd St is not my current address. That’s the address of a local “Gentleman’s Club” (And yes, I had to Google that).
My landlord, if I had one, would almost definitely not be named John Q. Shyster.
My date of employment did not start on 4/31/2003. And there aren’t 31 days in April either.
My CPA’s name is not “Willie Bethere”.
I don’t own a 2003 Lotus Elise. In fact, the Elise isn’t excepted to be available until 2015.
And finally, my father is not Dick Cheney.

Oh, I didn’t sign the application either.

I didn’t hear from the scammers for 24 hours. At this point I figured maybe I went a little over the top on the rental application…

Then I got this email from them:

Hello Jay,

My wife and I are going through your application now and as soon as we find it satisfactory we will immediately approve you as our tenant and email you at once. If all goes well we will get the signed hard copy Lease/Rental agreement along with entrance keys shipped to your present home address upon receiving the security deposit and the 1st Month rent. I will also like to inform you that we will be confirming your present address too so that when we get the package ship, we are rest assured that you receive it without getting it shipped to a wrong address you have not provided in your application form. I will email a copy of your application to my Attorney for records and confirmation, as soon as we confirm you as the right tenant to move into our home, I will allow my Wife accept the funds for safe keeping. I will email you immediately we are through with our findings after going through your application. Hope to read from you soon.

Remain Blessed

Well crap, they are going to confirm my address? I suspect Christie’s Cabaret won’t have a clue who I am… And now the wife is entering the picture. She’s going to accept the funds — but still no word on how those funds will be collected.

About a day later, I got this email:

Hello David,

My wife and I have gone through your application and have found it satisfactory, so we will say at this point “Congratulations” you are now our tenant and we want you to always pay your Monthly rental fee on time to avoid any form of embarrassment. My Wife will be receiving the refundable security deposit along with the 1st Month rent fee paid to her through a wire transfer so as to secure our home for you and take it off market which automatically makes no one contact us for the same house you are renting. She will also be signing on the Lease/Rental Agreement in a hard copy paper before shipping the keys along with the hard copy paperwork to your present home address. Can you please re confirm your present home address? And upon receiving the deposits we will secure our home for you and take it off market and get the keys shipped to your present home address along with a tracking # to let you know the exact time you will be receiving the package. Please do confirm your present home address by sending it again through the email so that we do not make mistake when shipping to you. When do you plan moving into our home when you receive the keys; Let me know immediately so that we can make arrangement on your move in date. Get back to me for payment information.

Remain Blessed

My response:

David? Who the hell is David and why is he approved as your tenant and not me? I was so excited to get your email, hoping you had studied our application and found it acceptable. Now I am sad because David, and not I, Jay Leno, am getting the home. *sniff*

Wire transfer? Why can’t I just send a check, assuming I get the home and not this David character.

Their immediate response:

The David was a mistype the David was my wife brothers name so i was also communicating with him yesterday also so you have nothing to worry about cos everything is perfectly intact. payment will be made via wire transfer for now so the rest payment then will be made via check.

I didn’t respond for two days. Got this:

Am still waiting to hear from you, knowing if you have make the payment for your move in.

My response:

Holy shizzle!! Western Union wants to charge me $110 to do the wire transfer. Why can’t I just overnight you a personal check? I also have cash. I could pay you in small unmarked bills. I should send those to the IRS, but I need a place to live first.

That $110 fee really is what Western Union would charge. Seems.. outrageous.

The next day the scammer sent this:

I tried calling you but no response. i tried to tell you to reduct the transfer charges from the money and after this payment then your next month rent will be made via check or any other means. but for now you have to make the payment via western union so get back to me once you make the payment. so that i will be able to process the shipment of the keys and document to you asap, cos has we speak now the keys and doucment are ready for shipment so once the payment is been confirm shipment will take place immediately. Waiting to hear from you with the payment info.

So I replied:

Dear God man, don’t EVER call me. The police and IRS monitor my phone, and I don’t want either of them to know that I am moving — that is why I didn’t answer. This needs to stay between you and me. You don’t work for the police or IRS do you?

Scammer response:

Have you make the payment yet? Please send tracking number western union provide. I tell you before I work as a Robotic Programmer & Welder/Fitter here in HOUSTON,TX and got married to a lovely wife who is a member of Joyce Meyer Ministries. Not work for IRS. We need payment made.

My response:

Oh, that’s right. I forgot about that. Do you work on oil rigs? They have a lot of those in Houston. Hey I remember you have a 20 year old daughter going to school in Houston. Is she cute? My son gets lonely sometimes after he broke up with all his girlfriends and my wife and I have been trying to get him hooked up for months. The kid really needs some company, if you know what I mean.

Sorry about the delay on the payment. I’ve got this big ass jar of change and it takes a LONG time to count out $1900 in nickels and dimes. Though there is the occasional quarter in there too. Hey, here’s an idea. What if I just shipped you this jar of change and we call it even? There is probably $2,500 in there, but it’s such a hassle to count out it’d be easier to just ship it all to you. What do you think? And let me know if your daughter is available for my son.

They replied a day later:

We need western union. Please take change there and use them to send wire transfer. Please hurry with payment so we can take home off market and send you keys.

Remain Blessed.

Dammit, nothing about the daughter… My response:

Well shit. I already shipped you the jar of change. Man, that was a pain in the ass. Do you know how much $2000 in nickels weighs? I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing it was at least 50 pounds. I thought the dude at the post office was going to have a hernia lifting that box. I had to pull all the quarters out to pay for the shipping. That really pissed off the people in line behind me. Anyway, you should have it in a couple of days. Can you send me the keys now? I think the IRS is on to me and I need to get out of here…

That was three days ago and I haven’t heard back yet. I think they’ve finally clued in.

Sadly, they’ll just move on to another target. After reading through this, it’s hard to imagine that people fall for this scam, but they do. It happens every day. Bottom line is, BE CAREFUL. This one actually managed to pull the real name of the home’s previous owner, adding some level of credibility to their scam. Apparently they even hijacked that person’s email account as this was displayed at the top of all their emails (in Gmail on Chrome):

Warning: The content of this message is suspicious. The sender’s account may be compromised. Beware of following links or of providing the sender with any personal information. Ignore, I trust this message  Learn more

Think folks. No one should be falling for these scams. And if you chose to toy with the scammers, don’t give them ANY real info. Apparently, you don’t need to, they’ll play along for as long as they feel they have a viable target, no matter what you tell them.

 

 

 

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About the Author
Jay Thompson

I'm a real estate broker in Phoenix, Arizona and the publisher of the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog. I tend to drive too fast and scream at the University of Texas and Denver Broncos football teams. My two kids are smarter than most adults I know and my wife is simply amazing.

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  1. Oh Jay, I just know you will love http://www.419eater.com if you haven’t already been there.

    Our area got hit with these a few years ago and I even got interviewed on local TV. It looks like the letter writers are getting a bit more sophisticated but it seems they still like to play the religious card. Our scammer would get the homeowner’s name public records and then call himself Reverend. Instead of Houston, he was a missionary in Africa.

    Malcolm Waring
    Delaware Water Gap, PA

    • Jay Thompson says:

      I *love* that site Malcolm!

      Yeah, they are always changing things up, trying to stay ahead of the game I suppose, but the gist of it is still there — can’t show you the home, wire me some money.

  2. Dave Barnhart says:

    I wonder if he would have fallen for this:

    “My cash flow is a little tight right now but I have a client who owes me $10,000. How about if I instruct him to make the check out to you instead of me? You can then forward a cashiers check to me for the difference ($8100)”

  3. Yes, I immediately contacted the District Attorney, the State Police, the email host, Craigslist, and the FTC (got a case number).

    It was taken down right away but in the meantime, State Police informed me someone fell for it and did the Western Union thing.

    I still can’t believe people still fall for anything that involves Western Union especially.

  4. Jody Moore says:

    This is entertainment at it’s best. You have the best sense of humor ever.

  5. I just had a gut wrenching big time laugh out loud moment, over and over. This was great! I think I”ll share this with my readers if you don’t mind? I’ll link to your site. This was wonderful Jay! I”m still laughing.

  6. Jay,

    Another great story! A while back we where looking for a place and my wife sent an email to one of the various Craigslist ads. She forwarded me the response to check out while at work because she wasn’t sure. (Now understand I work in web hosting and have seen many scams over the years) So I pull up the email and it just throws flags left and right. While I am looking at this and scrutinizing it a Co-Worker peeks at it and laughs. His wife got the same email with a different name and sending address 6 months earlier. Minus the from address, and the signiture it was word for word the same.

    Keep up the great work.

  7. Chad says:

    Hilarious! My side hurts after laughing so hard.

  8. sara bonert says:

    Ha, ha, ha. You had me laughing out loud by the end. We just rented a home and ran into this a few times. Fortunately it is pretty obvious when it is a scam. How do people fall for it, but unfortunately someone must, otherwise they wouldn’t do it? That said, we have found some great, legit tenants over the years and bought/sold a lot of stuff through Craigslist. Have a good week!

  9. Drewry says:

    good morning,

    I stumbled upon your blog and someone who commented on my website using their Facebook profile. After going to the person’s profile on Facebook, I saw a link on their wall for your website. I decided to check it out and wanted to let you know that I really dig your unique content. I invite you to gladly stop by DrewryNewsNetwork anytime and please post questions at your convenience in the Facebook comments section, if I can be of service to you in any good way. Keep up the good work on putting out the real estate content :-)

  10. We see this here in Tallahassee too Jay. Craigslist is definitely a high target area for real estate scammers and I rarely follow-up to a Craigslist-generated email address for fear of viruses as well.

  11. Dave Kinkade says:

    We’ve had our listings information and pictures stolen by the “Reverend”. The FBI and the police care but say there is little they can do to catch the scammers. What makes this so much more easy for people to be hustled is the MLS will not allow us to watermark our photos with a website or brokerage name. That will not eliminate the problem but it would be a very good place to start.

    The added bonus to watermarking photos is it would make high quality professional photos (that can cost plenty) much more difficult for other agents to steal at some point in the future.

  12. Drewry says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the adversities everyone here has faced for rental scams. I personally have never been through that, but can only imagine the frustration associated with it :-(

  13. Hi Dave,

    Our MLS vendor watermarks the photos with the MLS name on the bottom but a dishonest person will crop it off. If you do a full watermark it would help, but it distracts from the photo. We don’t allow anyone to use someone else’s photos without permission in the MLS. The issue of putting a company name on the photo gets into a whole discussion about IDX rules and the spirit of IDX. We actually don’t allow broker/agent info anywhere on the listing.

    Back on topic, even after sending out an MLS wide warning about the scam, I still get calls from agents that haven’t heard about it.

  14. Seth Neal says:

    My favorite email was the, “my son gets lonely sometimes” one! Bwahahaha!

  15. Chris Wylie says:

    Jay, you are a jewel. You provide an amazing service with your ability to nail these guys and educate the public on ther scams. We have not experienced this scam personally but we have heard about it on many occasions. Hopefully people will read articles like yours and wise up. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Jay Leno, that is priceless. Here in Florida, we were hit with the same type of scamming a while back. At Waterfront Properties, we try to do as much as we can to help our clients in finding their home or rental but you just never know who might read and fall for one of these emails. I think what really is sad is the fact that they work in a way to say that they are so religious and ‘blessed’ to throw the victim off guard. I often wondered about these emails. Thank you for the taking the time to actually go so far to get this information.

    • Drewry says:

      Florida is beautiful. 12 years ago, I still live in South Florida. When I first moved to South Florida in 1999, I was first in this city of plantation, awful sunrise Highway by University Drive, in walking distance from Motorola and Fuddruckers, which were both located on sunrise Highway in University Drive, across the street from the Mobil gas station. After moving out of plantation, I moved into the city of sunrise, heading towards coral springs. I lived on University Drive by Oakland Park Boulevard, across the street from the 24-hour Walmart, and exactly next door to Hooters restaurant. And, around the corner on University Drive and 44th St., there was the 24-hour golds gym, on Pine Island and 44th St. I miss Florida so much :-)

  17. Drewry says:

    it’s sad that there are so many dishonest people on the Internet. I hope this matter you are experiencing gets resolved momentarily :-)

  18. That was pretty bad..I always asking my self why they are doing that :(

    • Drewry says:

      because a majority of folk don’t know how to use the Internet in a positive way, and 2, also because they’re too lazy to come up with their own unique content, so they steal from others. Sad but true…

  19. Today’s laugh, unfortunately, this happens every day everywhere, people are so naive and go on these scams.

  20. Drewry says:

    made an honest mistake in my last reply. in the second sentence where it says:

    “12 years ago, I still live in South Florida. ”

    I meant to say:

    [12 years ago, I used to live in South Florida.]

    sorry about that once again. I was moving too fast. Forgive :-)

  21. Jay – This was absolutely hysterical. I nearly fell out of my chair. It really is hard to believe that people there are people who fall for these scams. Reading through some of the emails from the scammer, no one even talks like that.

    It’s just sad that there are people out there who do this to others.

    • Drewry says:

      and no scammers who do things like that are doing nothing more than wasting their time. Sad but true…

      • Dewry, it’s obvious that you are trying to build inbound links to your website but you are seriously wasting your efforts this way.

        If you look at the page source here you will see rel=’external nofollow’ on every link. What that means is that you get ZERO link juice by posting comments here.

        I would first take a serious look at SEO optimizing your site first. You will get much more bang for your buck.

        Jay, if I am out of bounds acting as Comment Police on your site, feel free to delete this post.

        • Drewry says:

          Malcolm,

          It’s always good to engage with people meaningfully online. I’m not into the do follow and the no follow link stuff. All of my comments are uniquely written, as I also seek to be old meaningful relationships with others on their sites, and engaging conversation with value.

          In reference to your comment about inbound links, I do a lot of that with social bookmarking and article marketing. My guess is that you assumed that, because you saw a category number associated with my domain. The reason why I’m also commenting on this blog is not only cause of building links, but also to learn about real estate, as I am considering starting up a real estate category on my site and inviting people potentially in the near future to join the site and share their good knowledge about real estate. Besides, I’m into all-natural marketing online, and I welcome the comment police to check the uniqueness of all of my comments made on this site, if you would like to invite them to check my comments against duplicate comment system. I even welcome you to my site if you’d like. I’m very much a people person and like building solid positive lifetime relationships with others. So, thank you for replying to my comment, and looking forward to getting to know you friend :-)

  22. Jay! This cracked me up! I can’t imagine how people feel when they really get scammed! It’s horrible that this happens to people but I’m glad you were able to distract a scammer for a few days.

  23. Drewry says:

    and Malcolm,

    I forgive you for misspelling my last name the wrong way… LOL

    (smile)

  24. As if him playing the God card makes everything alright and legit. Continued Blessings Jay…:)

  25. Jay – Another outstanding post. Your novel writing challenge must have helped you channel your inner Dave Barry or Carl Hiassen. Very funny authors who i really enjoy reading and I would rank you right up there. Keep the funny coming.

  26. Drewry says:

    I just had a talk with my mother about using craigslist for selling things. She wants to get into blogging and talking about all kinds of topics. When she mentioned about potentially selling stuff in the future through craigslist, I quickly let her know that there are lots and lots of scam artists on craigslist, as well as additional “loons”, and encouraged her to perhaps try eBay instead. After hearing all these negative things on the news about things that happen to people on craigslist, though their service is very good for selling stuff, I am a little afraid to advocate my mother selling stuff and talking to people on craigslist. Just had to stop by and add my humble two cents today!

    wishing everyone a blessed day. Thank you for having me here. I like with this blog is about :-)

  27. Great article, Jay. Entertaining and an important warning.

  28. Do you think there’s a late night pitch man on Nigerian TV pitching this get rich quick scheme? “Just a few tiny ads….and you’ll be rich”

    I’m so glad you were able to waste some of their time and effort Jay. Lord knows they’ve wasted my time over the years.

    These scammers are sophisticated enough to search for the owners names of listed properties on the county websites. Once they have that info, they go to gmail or yahoo and open an email account using the owner’s name. It’s the cherry on top for those that don’t believe “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.

  29. Jay,
    I see so many scams come out of Craigslist. It’s a wonder anyone uses it anymore. By the way, I LOVE the new look of your website! You have one of the best real estate sites I have ever seen.

  30. Using craigslist is a big help for many people but many people too are taking advantage of this free online ads. So everybody should be aware with all information that you are going to give.

  31. Stormie Weather says:

    This morning, I got this same email (scam response) regarding a rental advertisement on Trulia. The scammer misspelled the actual (female) homeowners surname by 1 letter, and assumed the first name/middle initial of another local person with the same surname, as the male respondant. Otherwise, the first email is identical. I did a “scam” search online and bingo! Found your story. Thanks for the validation and saving me the time of any more interaction with these morons.

  32. Jay
    I know that a lot of people, myself included, appreciate you doing such a complete job of describing this scam that we have all been seeing now for years. I have posted about this in the past, but we still see the same thing happening over and over. I personally get a contact about once or twice a month.
    Merry Christmas!

  33. Holly says:

    Jay, thank you for taking the time to correspond with this obvious scammer. There are so many scams in today’s day and age and Craigslist is a major venue for these scam artists. Your replies to the scammer are hilarious. Keep up the great columns/posts. It is most sad that the scammers used Christian terms in their emails. Again, thanks for the great blog site. Have a safe and happy holiday season.

  34. I think the reward of using Craigslist outweighs the risk. Yes there is risk and you need to be careful, but the rewards can be just as great.

  35. Paul smith says:

    Jay, i will think about your option for home.
    When i need home for lease, i will sure tell you.

  36. this is a must read artical thank uyou so much Mr. thompson i love it when some one sticks it to the bad guy.

  37. Good job jay loved the artical hopefully some one will shut this guy down and put him where he belongs for a long time.

  38. Oh Jay that was the best laugh I’ve had in a long time (okay, okay I probably need to get out more)! I just got one of these calls the other day so it was kind of fresh in my mind when I stumbled across your post but boy was the read ever worth it. Thanks for a great belly laugh!

  39. Erika Eaton says:

    Hilarious. When this first happened to one of my listings, I was foolish enough to think it was unique to me. I think it’s the same folks in Africa who have been doing the email scams.

  40. Marisa says:

    I reread this one again, and I still can’t believe there are people out there like this. I haven’t heard of any stories of this happening in the Seattle homes market, but amazing the guy abuses the ‘blessed’ word over and over. Thanks for the reminder of how people can be tricky in real estate!

  41. Kristin Ward says:

    LOL, I needed that. That was just priceless. I been looking over sites for information on the scam since one of my apartments was used in one. After dealing with a rather bad situation and a rather unhappy victim I can’t say that i was in the best of moods. This really helped.

  42. Wil says:

    Hola Jay.

    Un gusto haber leido tu publicacion. It helped me to clarify that I was in treatment with a real state criminal.

    P.S. It was funny also (girl for you boy, the coins)

    Thank you.

  43. Paul Zalitis says:

    I agree! I used to like Craigslist before in advertising so many stuff, and I can say not only rental scams are becoming rampant there, also job offerings.. We can’t complain though, scammers are everywhere and not only in craigslist, just that craigslist is the most popular advertising sites.  We should really need to be extra careful on everything. Not only in purchasing but also, let’s not forget not to trust a stranger.  Hope this helps! 

  44. SL says:

    Hi,
    I gave them my real information to a scammer and now I’m kind of freaked out. There was one that said they would charge me only some part of the rent if I was a female willing to tutor their kid who was 14 in math and english. I even sent them my picture because they wanted to see a picture. back then I didn’t know anything about scams so I did that.  I gave them my address and some information of where I went to school and everything. Should I be freaked out?

  45. Valerie says:

    thanks for doing this! you saved me!

  46. Froggie says:

    There is a current scam out in Annapolis, MD.  I inquired about the property and got the exact same response as the first email.  I blocked him/her from the account and am now moving on, but scary that these things can get the best of you!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This is a follow up on my previous post of rental scams.  Here is a story where an agent followed through in communicating to the scam artist. It is hilarious. Be cautioned: there is some colorful language, but not too bad. You can read Jay Thompson’s Anatomy of a Scam here. [...]

  2. [...] Rental scams abound in today’s volatile housing market.  In his witty Scam Alert article, Anatomy of a Rental Scam, Jay Thompson provides a play by play account of his experience with a scamer advertising on [...]

  3. [...] scam is still going on and good people are still sending money to scammers. An excellent article by Jay Thompson – a real estate guy in Phoenix – is worth a [...]

  4. [...] a fellow Realtor friend of mine from Phoenix Arizona, The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, decided to have a bit of fun with one of the scammers. This is a true must read. I was laughing hysterically and shocked at the lengths scammers will go [...]

  5. [...] more on this type of scam, see Jay Thompson’s post Anatomy of a Rental Scam for his in-depth follow-up with the [...]

  6. [...] to the scammers, but never taken it as far as real estate blogger Jay Thompson did in his post Anatomy of a Rental Scam.  Basically, the scammers portray themselves as having to be out of the country and want a really [...]

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