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Rental Scam in La Crescenta!!

By
Real Estate Agent with Teles Properties
A friend/client recently encountered the strangest scam with her rental property in La Crescenta. I thought you should all be alerted.

My friend received an e-mail about her Craig's list ad.

The gentleman said he was being relocated from England to Los Angeles and that he would arrive on a specific date, 3 weeks in the future. He said he really liked the home based on the Craig's List ad, and had instructed his employer to send her a check for the first month plus security deposit. The language was very odd, very formal and slightly archaic. In fact, it sounded a lot like the Nigerian 411 scam e-mails - the ones where the writer pleads for help from a US citizen to help them move a twenty million dollar inheritance.

My friend was instantly suspicious. However, she couldn't see the risk - yet.

She asked the gentleman to provide a rental application and to sign a lease agreement, and he responded by saying he would have the local company forward that along with the check. He affirmed his intent to move in on the specified date. My friend decided the whole situation was weird and that nothing would come of it. She proceeded to rent the home to another couple. Before this "real" couple made their decision to sign a lease, a check arrived in a plain envelope with no return address. The postmark was from Jacksonville, Florida. It appeared to be a company check from a company in Los Angeles and it was drawn against a Washington Mutual Bank. The amount was for a few thousand more than the required rent and deposit.

Here is where my friend was incredibly smart - and lucky.

She took the check to Washington Mutual and asked the teller to look at it and verify the funds were available. The teller said, "Ma'am, this is not a legitimate check!". Shocked, my friend quickly explained the circumstances around the situation and the teller said,

"There is an interesting scam going around that sounds just like this."

Apparently the scam is to convince a landlord the tenant is real by producing the check. When the check arrives, the scammers are counting on the surprise of the large amount and the official looking check to cover up the fact that there is no rental agreement or paperwork. On the move in date, the con artist will show up and tell the landlord that their company made a mistake. The overage was supposed to be for the tenant to use for furniture and household supplies. They will ask the landlord to give the overage back to the tenant, on the spot, so that they can start setting up house. Obviously, the con artist will leave and no one will ever hear from them again. The original check will never clear. This is so scary!! An unsophisticated or an elderly landlord could easily be taken in this scam. If they had just deposited the check, it is likely they would not know it was bad until after the scam was over. More to the point... the unsuspecting landlord would come face to face with a bad person in a vacant property!!!!! My friend was so fortunate. She rented the home to the very nice real couple and e-mailed the con-artist, saying the check had never arrived and the home was already leased. She never heard a peep out of them again. Please tell everyone you know. This is not an urban myth or e-mail hoax. That "friend" ... was me.
Anonymous
Frank G
Same thing different product I was selling a motorcycle I got a buyer out of Canada to make a long story short the bike was priced at 3500.00 when I got the check it was for 3000.00 MORE? Total 6500.00. He wanted me to send him the difference and the bike after I kept a extra 500.00 For my time and effort. He wanted me to call a shipping company pay and ship. The scam was to deposit check pay and ship before check clears. Loose money and motorcycle. So when I went to the bank to deposit check I ask the teller to run the check throughout the system make sure its good yeah! It was a scam. They kept the check and turned it over to the the banking authority. It's everywhere lots of bad people if it's to good to be true most likely It is.
Jul 04, 2010 05:13 AM
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