1. Flubs, Gaffes, and Blunders

Craigslist Real Estate Scam Still Strong a Year and a Half Later

It’s scam week here, having covered the Facebook Western Union scam in a column and with the original transcript. Some online scams have proven to be especially enduring.

In December 2007, I posted about a Craigslist real estate scam, and then followed it up with even more details about the real estate scam soon after. These posts have attracted thousands of views and hundreds of comments; terms related to the scam continue to be top draws for the blog.

Here’s a very abbreviated version of how the scam works:

  • A real person posts a housing listing on Craigslist
  • A scammer poses a buyer from abroad claiming to be interested
  • After a protracted conversation, the buyer sends a check for the deposit
  • The check’s for too much money, so the buyer requests a certain amount back, up to a few thousand dollars
  • The check the scammer sends is no good, so he’s hoping to receive the victim’s funds before the scammer is figured out

Even after all this time, the scammers still use a lot of the same names and professions.

Given how many people continue to search for information, I’ve posted a new exchange from a recent visitor. As with before, I’m doing this more for Google (and, hey, maybe for Bing) than current readers, since it’s most useful to those searching. But I do know people who have nearly fallen for this – and educated Internet users at that – so you may want to share this if you know of people posting real estate listings on Craigslist.

Here’s the recent exchange. Read from the bottom up. I’ve removed the recipient’s name and email address for her privacy.

Feel free to share your stories and other details in the comments, as Google picks up on those too.

—– Forwarded Message —-
To: Allen James <rukkiey2078@hotmail.com>
Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 8:58:20 PM
Subject: Re: Payment Information
I can not provide the information you requested below. You have not provide the documentation I’ve requested on my earlier email (pay sub, income tax returns, credit reports, bank statement). Also you did not answer my simple question on many kids you have. Obviously you do not need to move as quickly as you stated. You have been eliminated from my potential rental candidates. You’ve shown me that you are qualify to rent my house. Please do not waste any more of my time. Do not email me again.

From: Allen James <rukkiey2078@hotmail.com>
Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 5:07:37 AM
Subject: Payment Information
Concerning the rent and deposit required to be paid in order to secure the rental of your home prior to our arrival to the united states,i would be needing some information from you to be forwarded to my financier so as to make payment to you as soon as possible..i will have the information’s forwarded to my financier stating an instruction of payment to you. further more i need you to reconfirm the total move in costs,that is;the rent and deposit to be paid and if there are any other additional bills to be payed do not fail to notify me so that all payment can be sent to you at once.
you can have your information in which payment can be sent to you by my financier in this form
* Home/office address………..
* Payee name to be written on the check……
* Current cell phone/ office phone number…..
Due regards from me and my family,we are looking forward to meeting you
Rev Allen James.

From: Allen James <rukkiey2078@hotmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, June 14, 2009 4:36:07 PM
Hello ,
Thanks for your response and here is a brief introduction about my self;i am a Pharmacist by profession and I am currently working with the Woodstock Pharmacy, Woodstock,United Kingdom. I will be relocating to the united states of America for the next one year and during my stay i will be working for the United States Implants & orthopedic Agency on a private research work. I hereby reaffirm my interest about renting your home and will be willing to offer you one month rent for a start, plus the security deposit in order to secure the unit prior to our arrival to the united states.
I have a financier based in U.S.A and he will be the one handling the rent deposit payment on our behalf,i will instruct him to send you a bank Check in payment for the rent as soon as you give me the go ahead to send payment to you. I’ll be coming with my wife Due to the limited time that we have before our arrival and in line with my work schedule ,we are making arrangements with a furniture company to supply the home with furniture ,so we will need you to provide us with the accurate measurements of the living room and bedroom so that we can send it to the furniture company and they supply the unit with furniture that would fit in well… i would really appreciate it if you could send me some pictures of the living room and the bed rooms.
As regards the lease agreement form,you can have it forwarded to me for review.though i will have it filled and signed on our arrival to your place because am of the opinion that such vital document is best filled and signed physically. We can start the lease by 1st of June and it shall be for a period of 12 months. You can prepare the lease in my name and that of my wife(Rev James & Cheryl James).
Let me know how to move ahead as I intend to complete this deal before I move in a couple of days. I want all the arrangement to be solidified so I settle in comfortably when I arrive. I will let you know the exact date as soon as I get a booking on a flight to the states. I will look forward to your e mail with the required information.
Here is my phone number +Tel: +44-774-008-2424 Thanks and sincere regards from me and my precious family. I await your urgent response.
Rev James
Date: Sun, 14 Jun 2009 09:39:23 -0700
To: jamesallen071@gmail.com
Security deposit $$7,000
you will pay for all your own bills (water, electricity, garbage, cable and internet) except for Gardner.
I need make decison today so if you want to be consider for this…please call me right away. I have a few questions i’d like to ask.
From: Allen James <jamesallen071@gmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, June 14, 2009 3:58:45 AM
I saw your advertised on craigslist.com and am interested in renting it. I will be signing a one year lease for it and want to know the requirements for renting it. i.e
Monthly Fees:
Security Deposit
Electricity/Utility Bills
I will be doing a one year research on pharmacy work while in the states I will appreciate it if i hear from you in time as i will want to conclude the rental process before the end of June.

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