You need a place to live so you turn to Craigslist.com. There you find the perfect house. And the rental price is great! In fact, it sounds like a steal. Well yes, by the time you are done with it, theft could be involved.
Overseas individuals scour the internet looking for homes for sale. They then duplicate the home listing except that they offer the home for rent at a very attractive price. There is no phone number, but the owners email address is right there. Being a diligent consumer, you do some research and the owners name matches the email.
Ultimately, you will need to email back a rental application and wire the first month's rent plus a deposit. The owner promises to send the keys, but you never hear from them again.
Here is the actual email that you get in response to your inquiry.
Hello, Sorry for the late reply.
Thank you very much for making enquiry about my house, well I am happy to tell you that the house is available for now and you can move-in immediately or at your will after we have both reach an agreement on the rent.
I am a military man and currently not around in the states, I am in Africa with my family now where I'm receiving medical treatment due to the explosion of a Bomb that affected my legs and would not be back until July 2011.
Here is my phone# (number removed) I would be online thought out to attend to your enquiry.
House Address: (address removed),Clarksville, TN 37040 Type: Residential Style: 1 1/2 Story, Contemporary, Site Built Bedrooms: 3 Bathrooms: 2 Garage: Double, Attached "Attached - FRONT"
So you view the inside and out of the house and you may also the drive by the house on your convince time.
Parking Allow Pet Policy Cats,Dogs Deposit $500
Gas & water, Good condition,Air Conditioning, Dishwasher, Handicap Accessible,kitchen,Outside Smoking OK,refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, Chair rail, crown molding, underground,Perfect location for office away from everyone for peace and quiet, garage,Laundry room, so much more, Convenient to Ft Campbell & shopping. Pets Allowed.
What is your time frame for moving? you can and drive-by and mail me back if you like the property and its environments.
The security Deposit is $500 and the monthly fee is the $700 which is a month payment.
Get back as soon as possible,so i could forward the rent application form to you.
Thanks and regards,
So how can you protect yourself?
Like your mother told you. If it is it too good to be true, it probably isn't! Trust your gut instinct.
Watch out for "free" email addresses like Yahoo, AOL, Gmail. In this case the scammer also found the owners name and obtained an email address that matched.
The owner is out of the country. Only deal with local people or people that you can independently verify. Craigslist is designed for buying ands selling locally.
Notice the poor grammar in the email. It is obviously not written by someone whose native language is English. Misspellings and errors are common in their correspondence.
They will want you to wire the money by Western Union. Never wire money to someone you don't know!
They will try to pressure you to act quickly.
Oh, you know that rental application you filled out with your driver's license number, social security number, and bank account.....you may now be a victim of identity theft. Never ever send personal information to someone that you don't know.
The bottom line is use your common sense.