My wife and I are currently in the process of house hunting. Well, house rental hunting, because we want to have far more money in our accounts for down payment, hopefully more secure employment for myself, and because we’re hoping that in a year houses actually start selling at the lowered value they’re alleged to have but right now the owners are holding onto their homes rather than selling at the lower price (that was a doozy of a sentence. Good job if you got through that the first time without having to go back). Unfortunately, it appears that most houses/townhouses advertised for rental at this time have owners who aren’t willing to rent out the place beginning the end of August. As such, we’re in a limbo between having given our move-out notice to our apartment complex and having a place to live come the end of our lease.
Interestingly, only a week after we made some inquiries into some places (we actually used newspaper classified ads, if you can believe. Not only that, we actually bought a paper newspaper to look at the ads. Who knew paper newspapers still existed?), we’re starting to see some places that might be available at the time of our preferred move-in date.
We’ve seen a few places online that look promising, but were quite taken aback by the new Internet scam. I never knew that Nigerian princes rented out houses in addition to dying and leaving inheritances. They’ve branched out from their regular “My husband died and we need someone to inherit his $9,000,000,000,000,000,000” emails, and now advertise on places like Craigslist using someone else’s house information in order to swindle a person to “rent” from them.
We’ve only seen one so far, but we haven’t made too many inquiries yet. The ad in question copied a fair amount of information from another online rental site, including the homeowners’ names, and created an ad on Craigslist complete with a yahoo email address which included the owners’ names. The ad itself was promising, and was not clearly a scam on its face, other than the rent was a pretty good deal (but not so outlandish that it stood out). It did not include any phone numbers, but did include the aforementioned email address. As such, I emailed the address asking a few questions, as well as asking about taking a look at the place. What I received in return was the following (with name and contact information redacted):
Thanks for the email. I own the house and also want you to know that it was due to my transfer to West Africa, Nigeria that makes me and my wife to leave the house and also want to give it out for rent and looking for a responsible person that can take very good care of it as we are not after the money for the rent but want it to be clean all the time and the person that will rent it to take it as if it were its own. So for now, We are here in West Africa and will be staying here for the next 3 years in our new house and also with the keys of the house for rent, we try to look for an agent that we can give this documents and the keys before we left but could not find, and we as well do not want our house to be used any how in our absence that is why we took it along with us. I and my wife came over to Africa for a missionary work, so i hope you will promise us that you will take very good care of the house. So get back to me on how you could take care of our house or perhaps experience you have in renting home. Hope you are okay with the price of $1000 per month..ADDRESS……….XYZ, West Bloomington, MN 55437
SO IF YOU ARE REALY INTERESTED I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE RENTAL APPLICATIONS FORM BELOW
RENTAL APPLICATION FORM
Pls let me get this answer.
1)Your Full Name
2)Your Full Address & Phone Number
3)How old are you?
4)Are you married?
5)How many people will be living in the house?
6)Do you have a pet?
7)Do you have a car?
Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that i can have it in my file incase of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you.Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the key to you,please we are giving you all this base on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words,you know that we do not see yet and only putting everything into Gods hand, so please do not let us down in this our property and God bless you more as you do this.
Thanks and you are welcome
If you’re going to create an Internet scam of any sort, shouldn’t you NOT use Nigeria? What screams an Internet scam more than someone who claims to be from Nigeria? I could point out the myriad of ways this just screams scam, but I should hope that even the least Internet savvy person could figure them out (although, judging by the amount of people who still visit my email scam blog posts with search terms from the scam email, a lot of people have no clue). However, I am amused that the writer thinks that there is a “West Bloomington,” but more amused that this letter essentially says the house is empty, while the ad specifically stated that the house was currently occupied. And why do non-lottery Internet scams almost always include some sort of “God bless you” type language?
After receiving this email, I decided to check out how they had pictures of the house as they used in the ad. I googled the address and came up with the aforementioned other rental site. The ad on this other side, which I assume is legit, charged $450 more in rent per month than advertised on Craigslist, did not have an email address, and did have two local phone numbers.
Again I wonder how anyone can fall for scams like these, but because I watch Judge Judy, I’ve actually seen multiple people who do. I’m not entirely sure how this scam is supposed to work, but I assume it has to do with us sending this person a security deposit and rent, inside of house unseen, and they “promise” to send us the keys (and “the document”? What the heck is “the document”?) once they receive the rent.
I think the weirdest part of this is that the rent for the house wasn’t such that it made it a “must rent,” so that we wouldn’t take normal precautions by actually seeing the place in person first. But again, you never know with some people. As far as I know, phrases from the email posted here might lead to an overflow of visits to my blog. If that was you, c’mon now. You must have known this was a scam, right?