My colleague Erin, owns a rental property. Last fall, she advertised it on Craigslist and found a renter. Just recently, she received three phone calls from good Samaritans alerting her to the fact that someone was using her property information in a scam. After quickly looking into it…..sure enough, Erin had her very own, real-live Nigerian scammer.
It turns out that this con artist had somehow retrieved or saved Erin’s original ad text, along with her pictures, and posted an ad on the site. It even included the property address. However, the email address belonged to the scammer. The good Samaritans who had responded to the ad were immediately sure it was a scam. All three of them Googled the property address, found Erin’s phone number and alerted her to the problem.
Here is the response they received when in quiring about the rental:
Thanks for your response regarding your interest in having my apartment for rent.The apartment is much available for now.I want you to know that I am the owner of this building situated at XXX Malaya Way, Centennial Denver .But i am now presently in West Africa for my Hopitals Project prayer crusade with my wife and we have the keys right here with us.I will like to inform you that it was due to my transfer that makes us to leave the house and also want to give it out for rent and looking for a resposible 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 at 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,NIGERIA our new house and also with the keys of the house,we are trying to look for an agent that we can give this document before we left but could not see and we are as well as dont want our house to be used any how in our absent that is why we took it along with us here.We are only willing to give the apartment out to a lovely and caring family only, so if you know you cannot give the apartment the neatness it deserves please don't contact me.But if you promise to always take good care of the apartment,get back to me on how you could take care of our house or perhaps experience you have in rentiong home.Hope you are okay with the monthly price of $1000 with hydro,heat laundry facilities,air-condition and the security deposit is $300.i look forward to hearing from you ASAP so that i can forward you an application to fill out and discuss on how to get the house for rent,also are you ready to rent it now or when?pet is allow
Await your reply
Erin immediately notified Craigslist and had the ad removed. She then worked with one of the good Samaritans to see what would happen if he continued to show interest. He emailed back and forth and eventually agreed to rent the home, sight unseen. The culmination of the scam was a request for him to send the deposit via Western Union to Nigeria and they would ‘mail’ him the keys. He actually received a name and address in Nigeria. Here’s the text of the last email:
Thanks again for the mail,well you can move in as soon as possible if you want to but right now the house is available all you need is to make the security deposit so that you can be the lucky person for the house okay,below is the payment info
Do send the payment from any Money Gram or Western Union Store close to you. Make it out in the name of my Personal Assistant and forward the payment info to me. As soon as I get it I will commence with sending the keys to you.the names to make the payment with are-
STREET------------------78 ROAD, ST PAUL CHURCH OF THE LORD AVENUE
TEXT QUESTION?--------WHO IS LORD
Thanks and God bless you.
Of course, Erin realized that there was no way to catch them in another country, but was worried that someone might actually be desperate enough to fall for the scam, send the money, and show up at the house as the ‘new renter’. The only thing she figured she could do was to notify the current renters and file a police report. Once the ad was removed, the calls stopped and nothing else happened.
We just wanted to share this as a warning to anyone out there looking for a rental. If something seems fishy, it probably is. Do some research, use Google, and please do not send money to anyone in Nigeria…..ever!