Oh my goodness.. I cannot believe this. I was almost this close (<-->) to falling into a rental scam trap.
Ah.. Its scary growing up! Can I stay in the comforts of my own pretty dorm for the rest of my life?
I found an ad on craiglist for a 1 bedroom apartment in Orange County for $500 and I was like "oh my god! Its so cheap!!!" So I emailed the person and a few hours later, the person emailed me back!
This is what he said.
Thanks for your response, I am **** the owner of the apartment
you are making inquiry of. I lived with my wife in the apartment until i left
for a construction job with Total in West Africa
(I'm an expatriate in construction engineer) and I am Happily married
and we have been together for years now my wife's name is mercy. I will be here for while that is why we want to rent our place out
so presently my townhouse is very much available for rent and all utilities
included, it is furnished and i don't mind "PETS". Please i want you to
note that, I am a God fearing,kind and honest man and also i spent a lot on my
property, so i will solicit for your absolute maintenance of this
apartment. Hope you understand that it is not the rent that is my
problem but i want you to keep it tidy at all times, hope we have an
understanding.we only want someone that can be serious about renting.
I want a tenant i can trust so that we can have a good understanding. I will be Staying here now that is why I have made
up my mind to lease our place to whom ever that will
take good care of it.
If you are very much ok with all this then i want you to please contact my wife clara on (****@yahoo.com) so you can proceed with the rental I am busy most times but she can respond to you immediately she will be the one to decide who we rent the place to. Thanks
I replied and the next minute I know, the wife was emailing me about my rental information and everything. The "husband" called me the morning after and asked me how fast can I pay him. When I said I wanted to look at the place first, he was like "I can mail you the key after you pay me the security deposit." His English was really broken and I could barely understand him. He was nice though and even agreed to let me hold the key for a few months without charging me rental until I moved in.
Too good to be true? Bells ringing in your head?
Yeah. Trust your instincts. I felt something fishy right from the beginning when couldn't even keep his "wife's" name constant, one being Mercy and the other Clara.
The wife emailed me with the following email.
Thanks for getting back to me with the Rent Application
Form.. I just wanted to let you know that we have
decided to let you live in our house.. As we have found your
application very satisfactory and acceptable by my
family..So we would want you to go through this email and
get back to us on what you feel so we could proceed in
renting the house to you. We would like to send the following documents to you via UPS
SHIPPING DELIVERING COMPANY to the address you sent to us
and the tracking number will be sent to you so that you can
possibly occupy our house. Please once again, we are giving
you this based on trust so please do not disappoint us and i
promise you that, you will love the house.
We are with the under listed documents here with us and you
will need to make Payment for the first month rent and wich is $1000
to enable shipment of the Keys and documents to the address
you have provided to us, after which you could move in at
your convenience... The rent starts counting when you move
in, so you could go ahead with the payment straight away to
make things faster,so you can have the keys and documents of
the house with you and then move in at your own convenience.
Here are the contents of the document that needs to be
> 1) Entrance and the rooms Keys
> 2) Paper/Permanent house form
> 3) The house documentary file.
> 4) Full Description of the house
> 5) Payment Receipt
So please do get back to me today so that I will let know
the next step to take concerning the payment....The house is
available for rent ,so you are free to decide on how long
you intend occupying it...Rent already includes
utilities..I'm ready to accept either monthly or upfront
mode of payment..depending on the one you're most
with..Utilities include:power, water,sewer and
trash... Your monthly rent already covers
utilities so you do not have to pay extra charges for that..
Please note that the deposit made is fully refundable
should in case you finally gain entrance to the house after
receiving the keys and documents and feel unsatisfied or uncomfortable with the
interior,but i am giving you a benefit of doubt that you
will love everything about this lovely home..You are advised
to act fast on this so you don't loose the house to
other interested applicants.
I ALMOST believed them. Oh my god.. I finally Googled Rental scam and a whole bunch of warnings came up. Especially people from Nigeria or West Africa claiming that they are "out on business" and are "god fearing" people. And notice the broken English too?
Coincidence? I don't think so.
Things like that seemed to be pretty normal around here especially in this tough economy where people are more gullible to fall for traps because of the lower than usual rental prices. But even if its low, it is still $1000!
Thank goodness I realized in time. o.O I can't imagine the consequences if I believed this whole story. So please be careful.