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Scam-alot

My wife and I accidentally own three houses.  It was an accident, honest.  So, we are trying (yet again) to get a summer rental out of our one home in a neighboring village.  Hopefully, Allah will provide.

Last Sunday, we got a call from a former coworker.  He was looking for a new place to live, saw our house advertised on Craig’s List, and sent an email vis-a-vis “small world!”  He got back an email from me, telling him that I was living in Africa with my family and, if he sent me the first month’s rent and deposit, I would send him the key.  All of this was very well and all, except that 1) I am not in Africa and never have been, 2) wife and family are still here too, and 3) it was not actually my email address.  Naturally, he called me here at home.

Yes, it was a scam.  In fact, it is a very standard scam.  The scamsters, who really do appear to live in Africa, have been doing this to people all over the country.  They find a likely rental in a hot market, borrow pictures from the realtors website, along with the house information, and create a Craig’s List entry with a low-ball price.  Naturally, they also go to Zillow or somewhere to get the owner’s personal information and, at least in my case, they created an email account using my name.

If you want to read more about this particular scam, you can look here:

http://www.scamwarners.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=40074

Craig’s List has removed the ad, don’t know if or what yahoo did about the email address, and Brenda talked to the police about it.  The realtor fielded one call from a woman confused about the different prices in different ads and I fielded another one.  Our current tenant had two very young women knock on the door the other night telling her she had to get out because they were moving in the next day.

Guess I should get to bed early tonight – probably have a line of unexpected tenants calling me in the morning.

But really, sending $1000+ to someone you don’t know – on another continent! – and expecting him to mail you a key?  Really?  If those girls did that, then they really needed the education they just got and maybe it will save them making a bigger mistake down the road.  I hope so, anyhow.

On the other hand, they can count themselves as part of a large club.  These guys have been scamming people from one end of the country to  the other.  Probably takes them less than an hour to set up each ad – you know, create a new Craigslist account, find a likely house, copy information and pictures, create a new email account – then they just sit back and wait for gullible people to call or write.  By the time the fraud squads shut down one ad, they probably have three more up and running.  One gullible mark a week would probably make a nice living in most parts of Africa.

Its a rough world out there, people.  Let’s try to be a little smarter than the competition, okay?

 

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