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May 23 2012

Rental Scam!

Hey! Somebody tried to scam me on Craigslist (shocking, I know!).

The Hubby and I are toying with the idea of moving into a bigger apartment so I browsed around on Craigslist and sent out a few emails. One response was WAY to good to be true (i.e. too cheap for what was offered). Other red flags were that she said she was in the UK and that there was no one who could show me the place. I sent back a note with some benign comments and got back this:

Before going further with anything I must tell you that for payments I will use the eBay Company, they will secure the transaction of payments. I will open a CASE ID# at eBay Company for this transaction and I will give them your full name, shipping info, phone# and indicate you as my tenant. After that, they will contact you with the payment details, and they will ask you to send them a refundable deposit, $1,400.00 in 24 hours(the money will be for the first month of rent + the security deposit). After they receive your deposit, they will notify me immediately to start the shipping of the keys and the contract. You will receive a  tracking number in max 24 hours after they receive your deposit. The keys will reach to you in 3-4 days. After you’ll receive the keys and the contract, the 14 days of inspection period will start (you’ll have 14 days to see the condo, read the contract, decide if you keep the condo or not). After the inspection you will contact them and tell your decision: TAKE THE CONDO or NOT TAKE THE CONDO! In case you’ll take it you’ll have to send them a copy of the contract signed by you and they will release the money to me, if not you’ll have to send them the contract unsigned and they will refund your money($1,400.00), the contract and the keys will be shipped back at my expenses! I will pay the shipping and you’ll have to pay the money transfer fee for the refundable deposit.

Craigslist Fraud FAQ suggests reporting scams to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. All I have are the emails from this person. Do you guys have any suggestions for other places to report this to in Minnesota or to the federal government? I haven’t lost any money, but if the information I have can help identify a scam or apprehend a criminal I’m game to share that.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    Jason Thibeault

    Shipping in 3-4 days, refund only in 24 hrs…?

    SOUNDS LEGIT!

  2. 2
    Albatross

    The Internet Crime Complaint Center
    http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

    For more information and other Federal complaint services:
    http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Internet-Fraud.shtml

    In Minnesota you can contact Lori Swanson’s office of the Attorney General:
    http://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Fraud/Default.asp

    Or the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
    https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/age/fraud/Pages/report-a-scam.aspx

    -Your friendly neighborhood Internet security consultant.

  3. 3
    Greg Laden

    I’ve seen this before. I don’t remember where, but some time over the last year or two someone told me the same thing you are saying here.

    I understand the apartment has a nice view of downtown Lagos.

  4. 4
    Alicia Kopp

    I have been targeted for piano lessons by someone overseas. Story goes they want to sign up their child, or it is a young college student, for piano lessons and they want to pay for the entire year up front. Somehow this ends up with them sending a fake check. I took it to the police with print outs of my emails with all the IP information I could find to track it as far back as I could. The police said that there wasn’t really anything they could do with it, just be aware of such scams and don’t communicate with these people.

    When it comes to cyber fraud, the authorities are worthless.

    1. 4.1
      N. Nescio

      Do you honestly expect your municipal Police Department to go arrest somebody in a netcafe in Europe or Africa because they sent you a scam e-mail?

    2. 4.2
      Dalillama

      Tell me about it. The local CL is infested with people who claim to be hiring a personal assistant/office help, then say they’re out of the country but just need you to cash a check and then buy a money order. I’ve tried to report them, but all I get is told a)not our department and/or b)not enough information (@Albatross that’s what I ran into at ic3, btw).

      1. N. Nescio

        Seriously, what exactly do you expect the Police to do about this?

        Years back I used to administer an e-mail system for a couple thousand users spread across about a dozen locations. I had to deal with stuff like this all the time, and the overwhelming majority of people sending these kinds of e-mails are doing so from a throwaway account from a free e-mail provider, from a publicly accessible computer, in a country outside the borders of the United States.

        Apart from filtering blocks of IP addresses at the mailserver level, or filtering based on e-mail content, there really isn’t much you can do about it apart from educating users.

        I do not understand why you seem to be under the impression that the Police have some kind of magic IT power to deal with this. Most Police Departments I’ve encountered seem to have their hands already overfull with the stuff they *can* deal with.

        1. F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

          They could pass the information along to the appropriate authorities. You know, the one’s who are supposed all about cracking down on “cyber” crime.

          But you’re right, you can’t really expect them to do anything, as law enforcement is near entirely full of shit in certain matters. Now, if you downloaded infringing content from somewhere on the net, they can damn well find you if they want.

          No one is asking that the local police go to Nigeria and arrest teenage email scammers. But they won’t even look to see if the problem lies in their jurisdiction, or pass it on. No, they just keep attacking CL, demanding CL take down posts or whole sections (like the personals), rather than using them as an investigative resource.

          Yes, in many cases there is nothing to be done. But mostly, it’s because law enfarcement doesn’t give a rat’s ass, both on personal levels and on cultural/institutional levels. Yet they constantly clamor for more power and more tools (which they don’t need) to supposedly deal with these very things.

          Again, to be perfectly clear, I do realize that some people think these things can be solved – or at least the offender identified – almost magically. I do not discount this at all. I deal with this sort of magical thinking about IT stuff all the time. Even smart, rational people do it unintentionally (although they are the one who “get it” without feeling insulted once something is briefly explained).

  5. 5
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    Contact eBay’s security … find out if they want you to get the scammer to open a listing so they can shut down the account.

    And craigslist security too. They might be able to shut that account.

  6. 6
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    If you are trying to lease a place you get the same scammers in reverse … they are the perfect tenant, and they want to send you a cashier’s check RIGHT NOW. They will send if by UPS or FEDEX, never the US mail, so they can avoid mail fraud charges

    I’ve never seen such a flood of church-going, karaoke-loving, quiet studious tenants in my life!

    I feel like continually putting ads in and sucking them dry with the checking fees.

  7. 7
    robb

    @Alicia Kopp: i had the same experience when i posted an ad in Craigslist last summer offering tutoring. high school student needs tutoring, full year in advance blah blah blah. i only exchanged a few emails and ignored it.

    a big red flag should go up if the grammar in the ad is for shit–especially if it is idiomatically wonky.

  8. 8
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    You get the same sort of crap from “prospective tenants”, i.e., same scam positions reversed. They are insanely obvious.

  9. 9
    kim

    Since it isn’t likely the person is in the US, perhaps you could have some fun with it. What is the most outlandish story you could send them? Maybe we should have a contest. I vote that you’re going to keep aliens captive there for your medical experiments so hope the neighbors don’t mind odd noises and visits by the men in black.

    Rebecca Watson posted one on Skepchick that she got. She told them she was going to set up a meth house and have a lot of people and dogs living there and wanted to make sure it was ok.

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