[Scam] Possible rental scam
A couple that I'm friends with is trying to find a new apartment, due to problems with their current landlord. They told me they found a nice place on Craigslist, but needed my help with the application, since they don't currently have internet access, and all communications have been through the husband's cell phone. I told him I'd bring him to the house, and then he could forward the email to me, he could fill out the application on my computer, and then I could email it back to his phone.
While we were on our to my house, he started telling me about this place. According to the ad, the place is owned by a couple whose job had transferred them out of the country into the UK. They had been trying to tell the house, but when it didn't sell, they decided to rent it instead. I was pretty sure I had read about this sort of thing being a scam, and I asked him if he was sure it was legit. He said he was certain that it was.
When we got to the house, he forwarded the email to my computer, and I started looking it over. More red flags started going up as soon as I read it. It read like broken English, although not nearly as bad as some of the other scams that I've seen. I did some searching on some of the phrases, and finally the phone numbers, and that brought me to this site: »www.joewein.de/sw/419-phone-uk.htm#phone-uk This part in particular jumped out at me.
"If an email mentions a UK phone number starting with +4470, it usually means that the sender of that mail is not in the UK at all and it is almost guaranteed to be a scam. "
I also googled the address of the property, and several real estate listings came up, including one at realtor.com, which was refreshed just a week or so ago. I told my friend that I was almost certain that this whole thing is a scam, and he said he's going to call the real estate agent on the realtor listing I found, to find out who really owns it.
Here's the emails that he received:
Jessie Winters wrote:
>I got your response
> to our ad stating your interest in our house located at 5004 Utah Ave
>Harrisburg, PA 17109 . Three bedroom, one full Bath; Move in ready cape
>cod in a great community. Excellent starter home or perfect for
>downsizing. Neutral finishing, recently remodeled bath. New windows. All
> brick construction with hardwood floors under carpet. Two bedrooms on
>first floor with finished second level. Eat-in kitchen. Central A/C,
>Force Air heating, Full basement ready to finish. This home has many
>possibilities! Central Dauphin School District, Susquehanna Township
>School District, Harrisburg School District, Steelton - Highspire School
> District Enjoy cooking in the kitchen complete with, electric glass
>stove top and dishwasher, Washer and dryer included in the rent. nicely
>designed fully equipped
> kitchen. 1,299 sqft
>The house is owned by me and my husband. We
>are a little selective in leasing out the House. Our priority is taking a
> responsible, careful, understanding and reasonable tenant that will
>take good care of the property.
>The above virtues are very
>important as we intend to leave you in full charge of the house while we
> are away. My husband and I just relocated to UK recently due to
>business. We wanted to sell before since we will be away for a long time
> and since we might even not be moving to the house when we arrive, so
>we thought of renting it out since selling is taking longer than
>expected. So you can rent the place as long as it works with us. We
>intend renting from here as we would send the keys to you so you can
>take possession if we conclude.
>Note that only a serious and
>responsible applicant will be considered. It is therefore your
>responsibility to prove to us that you are the perfect tenant for us.
> I do apologize if I sound too strict but we are giving out the house at
> a most affordable rate i.e. $700 month rate (water and heat). This
>reduced cost is far below the house's worth and is intended to serve as a
> constant reminder of your responsibility to take good care of the house
> for us if given the opportunity. We are one of the few who believe
>Harrisburg, PA housing should not be so high in cost of rentals.
>Besides, we only need someone to occupy the house and take care of it.
>If we had a close family friend or relative in Harrisburg, we would
>simply give it out to them to help us take care of it. It's a lovely
>house, so we will require you get back if you are really interested and
>are ready to abide by our mode of renting, as we are just trying to
>ensure we rent to the right person, as we want a clean and responsible
>person, someone that will take absolute care of the place, as my husband
> feels it wouldn't be right to leave such clean place
>Get back to me so i can know your plans and give you
> the next step however you can drive by the location and be rest assure
>before getting back to me as the house is absolutely clean and note that
> there's a $600 security deposit plus a $700 months rent due at signing
>P.S: Also note that subsequent months rent is due at every first day of each month.
Thank you for your great response. I hope you are doing well? Like i said in my mail, my husband and I got transferred. So we had to move in a hurry. We are a small happy family who look forward to having a good person occupy. For security reasons, we had the place locked and the keys are here with us. We shall send the keys to your address if you are serious about renting since we can't do a showing as a result of our absence. We are no longer selling and we are not moving in back when we get back to the state so you can rent as long as you want. Every issues that arises will be sort out from the monthly rent. At this point, if you want to proceed, then my husband has the final say on who occupies, so i urge you to get a calling card and call him either ways on +44705 382 6981 or 011 4470 1113 5749 brief him about yourself and have a little chat. Please let him know you got referred to him by me. Then you are to also provide one or two references, your
move in date, your full name, current address where you wish to receive the keys and phone number for effective correspondence.
P S: Please fill out the application form attached and get it back to me asap.
Get back to us asap if interested. Thanks
|reply to TheWickerMan |
Well, the good news is that my friends listened to me when I said that it was a scam, even more so when I told them that I had posted this in a place that specialized in this sort of thing, and that two other people agreed with me. Still, it makes me sick that scammers like this are out there. My friends have three kids, and not a lot of money, and they just want a nice place to raise their kids. At least I was able to thwart this particular scam.
|reply to TheWickerMan |
My friend called me today to let me know he had spoken with the real estate agent, who confirmed that this is definitely a scam. He said this sort of thing has been happening with properties he's been handling for about a year now, and for a couple of months with this particular property. He says he keeps alerting Craiglist to it, but they don't really do anything about it.
Apparently the real owner is an old lady whose husband recently passed away, and she's just trying to get rid of the house. My friend told me the ad said that people were welcome to come look at it from the outside, which I'm sure is a bit unnerving for the owner, if she's still living in it.
The agent thanked my friend for alerting him to it, and my friend thanked me for preventing him and his wife from getting scammed. So I guess that's our good deed for the day.