I am homeless. Well, soon to be. More on that some other time, but suffice it to say, I need to find a place. Being a modern techno-male, I turned to, where else, Craigslist to find a place.
I spotted an ad for a lovely place in Montreal. So I wrote back inquiring as to availability.
I got the following email back:
Thanks for the email. I Sandman Pearson and my wife Christian Pearson
Sandman own the 3br - Single Family Home. and, the House is still available and will only be given out to the right person that will take very good care of the place and the facilities. and i also want you to know that it was due to my transfer that makes me and my wife to leave the house and also want to give it out for rent and looking for a responsible 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, our new house and also with the keys of the house, we try to look for an agent that we can give this documents before we left but could not see and we are as well as don't want our house to be used any how in our present that is why we took it along with us. I and my wife came over to West Africa for a missionary work, so i hope you will promise us to take very good care of the house.and the house is has a fabulous backporch is inseparable from the relaxed setting of the heavily treed backyard;you will also find a pool is like a diamond glittering in the sun; inside are hand-scraped hardwood floors, travertine paved entry, and real granite counters; So get back to us. on how you could take care of our house or perhaps experience you have in renting home. Hope you are okay with the price of US$750 Well i must let you know that the house has a lot of facilities like hydro and heat laundry facilities,air condition, gimming facilities, internet and telephone access and a car park and other necessary facilities. and so on. I am looking forward to hear from you soon,
RENT APPLICATION FORM
1) Your Full Name:
2) Your Full Address & Phone Number:
3) How old are you?
4) Are you married?
5) How many people will be living in the house?
6) Do you have a pet?
7) Do you have a car?
9)how long lease are you looking for?
10)How soon do you intend moving in?
Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that i can
have it in my file incase of issuing the receipt for you and contacting
you. Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the
document and the key to you, we do not see yet and only putting everything into
Gods hand, so please do not let us down in this our property and God bless you
more as you do this. Please I want you to check the house at the address and let
me know if you would like it, the House is locked and I have the keys. Thanks and you are welcome
Thanks and God Bless You.
Sandman Pearson and my wife Christian Pearson
Now, what could possibly be wrong with that, right? Well it was almost exactly like an email I received when I asked after an apartment in Vancouver some weeks earlier:
I'm a Medical doctor and I work for the Red Cross society. I and my family arrive West Africa Two days Ago in supporting long term needs for clean water in Kenya, Sudan, Mali, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Benin, Republic, Nigeria and Ethiopia - providing the everyday needs of more than 389,500 people. Also Committed to mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS, which kills more than 6,000 Africans everyday, we are supporting community garden programs for AIDS sufferers and their families.
We are renting this our little home because we will be spending a long time traveling around Africa and we need a clean responsible person that we can trust to take a proper care of the home at all time and also the rent includes utilities like Wardrobe, Double Bed, Sheets & Blankets with Air Conditioning in the Bedrooms Furnished, TV, Iron, Sofa, DVD, Internet service and Air Conditioning in the Living room, Washing Machine/Dryer, Fridge, Electricity, Gas Hob, Oven, Microwave, Plates & cutlery in the Kitchen and it available for short and long term rental. Feel free to get back to me if interested so I can forward you the rental application and please note this that you cant go inside the house because the keys are right here with us but feel free to go view the exterior of the house and upon approval the keys will be send to you.
Thanks and God Bless
I also got the following, a few days later, to yet another inquiry I launched:
Thanks for your email,I am so sorry for geting back to you so late. I am Pastor.Campbell,The owner of the flat you are making inquiry of. Actually I resided in the flat with my family with my wife and my only daughter before and presently we had packed due to my transfer from my working place and now situated in ALABAMA, and presently my flat is still available for rent for including the utilities like hydro, washer,security. Am in West Africa for a Crusade and I will like you to get in touch with my wife in Spain for more information,she is with the keys/document to the flat. we're kind and honest family & respectful people and also spent a lot on our property that we want to give you for rent, I will solicit your absolute maintenance of this flat and want you to treat it as your own, if it's taken by you, money is not the main problem but we want you to keep it tidy for me to be glad when even we return. I also want trust in you as I always stand on my word.Now, I've made my feelings known about the normal Nigerian '419' variant on the centuries-old Spanish prisoner scam, you know the one 'I'm a retired African general's son, he has stolen millions, give me a thousand to get this out of the country, and we'll both be rich!'. Well, that plays off people's greed, and my sympathies of someone willing to help steal money aren't exactly high.
Address:- 7 chemin Cote Ste Catherine
Email my wife mary on (email@example.com) and she will attends to you better.
Thanks and you are welcome...
But this?!? This is looking to steal from people looking for a place to live. Imagine, you hand over your personal information (all the questions above would be legal in the course of a rental agreement, at least, in Quebec, as would requiring a social insurance number, etcetera), maybe a couple of month's rent, maybe even get your stuff packed and into the truck, just to find out there's no room at the inn? Wow. that's just plain evil.
I was just in Boulder Colorado, and the local student paper has a cover-story on some poor kid who got conned in precisely this manner, and doing this at this time of year makes sense from the scammer's point of view, with all these college students out there looking for places to live.
So bottom line, beware. I'm pretty disappointed with Craigslist abuse department, I contacted them when I noticed this and the fraudulent ad is still up. I happen to know Craig, and will be reaching out. Kudos to my boy Carlo Catajan at Yahoo! who zapped the email accounts so at least others might not fall pray specifically to the scam.