Real or Nicely Dressed Scam

Posted: March 30, 2011 in humor, Life
Tags: , , ,

Having become completed disgusted with the (lack of) water pressure in my apartment, and having gotten so tired of uselessly swearing at the severe temperature swings when trying to have a shower, I decided to explore the internet for some decent apartments.  I want a step up this time, and want not just good consistent water pressure and temperatures, but climate control as well.

I saw a promising ad, and put in a query to discover more about the apartment.  Here’s the response I received (key information has been redacted; it might be that the person who responded is legit).  Put yourself in my place, and consider your own reactions to this response.

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Subject: RE: $800 / 2br – Spacious and large 2 bedroom 2bathroom apartment (Downtown Toronto)
Reply-To:

Hi,
    Thanks for your interest in wanting to be my tenant. I am looking for a responsible & clean tenant that will be able to take good care of my apartment because I work as Research Associate in Molecular Imaging Research/Neurology and I do travel a lot, Presently I am in United Kingdom for a research and I don’t know when I will return back to Canada that’s why am looking for a Tenant who will live in the apartment and take care of it as i dont want to sell it. The apartment is available for long term and short term lease is also accepted.
   The apartment is located at (redacted)

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I didn’t start looking for problems until I read through the entire message.  Let’s examine this: the man currently owns the apartment.   He has provided information that theoretically should be of no interest to me.  But he has provided it for a reason: to establish credibility.  He owns the apartment but travels a lot and is currently out of the country.  The message he’s conveying is that as the potential renter, I can’t meet him to discuss the apartment.  And because he’s the owner and not here, I can’t even get in to see the apartment.  I must therefore rely on what he says and on the pictures he chooses to provide.

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when i come back to canada, i will not be living in the apartment as i am about to buy a new house. The apartment is furnished but if you need it unfurnished, i can order for the furnitures be moved to storage. The rent is inclusive of the below listed utilities.

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Translation: “don’t worry about being kicked out when I come back.  And furnishings aren’t a problem either, if you don’t have any.  If you do, the furniture in the apartment can be removed, at my expense.  No worries for you as the renter at all.”

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• High Speed Internet
• In-Suite Laundry
• Large in-suite storage
• Cable

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Check it out!  With a fully furnished (or unfurnished) apartment that you may never have to leave, you also get internet and cable TV.  Such a deal

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Its a spacious and lovely 2-bedrooms 2bathrooms and 1 storage furnished apartment, Utilities are included and Pets are allowed. Kitchen completely equipped, Kettle – Toaster – Dishwasher – Freezer – Microwave – Oven – Dryer – Heat – Water – Washing Machine and Electric..

   I want you to note that I am a kind and honest man and also I spent a lot on my property that I want to give you for rent, so I will solicit for your absolute maintenance of the apartment and I would want you to treat it as your own, I would like you to keep it tidy all the time I also want you to let me have trust in you as I always stand on my word,the rental fees is $800 per month, i require first and last month rent. I will like you to drive by to the building at your convenient time to view the exterior of the building for you to know where the apartment is located. Find attached, some of the interior pictures of the apartment for you to know what the inside looks like.

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More bragging about the man himself.  You can definitely trust him because he says you can.  He notes, almost as an aside, that he requires first and last month’s rent.  Of course that’s standard for any apartment.  He suggests I drive by the apartment to see what it looks like.  Having provided the address perhaps he has forgotten Google street view.  I looked.  There’s a condo building there.  It’s a real address.  The problem is: is it his?

He has also helpfully provided some pictures, proving (in his mind) his trustworthiness. He knows the renter will want to see the apartment but, alas, he can’t be there to show it.  So sad.  Here are some pics to help with the decision-making.

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   I will be shipping the keys and documents of the apartment to you through DHL express next day delivery as soon as we have concluded. Once you have seen the exterior of the building and wish to continue, email me asap so that i can send you the rental application form.
 i can be reached on (UK phone number redacted).

Regards
(redacted)

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The deal is simple:  after the cheque clears, he’ll be certain to send the keys and rental application form.  No problem. 

Oh wait.  Problem.  Usually the application comes first; a credit check is done and THEN you hand over the keys.  But hey – he’s across the ocean so we’ll just assume the renter is good to go, as long as his cheque clears.  

Note too his use of the English language, with errors all over the place.  You would think that a person who works, as he indicates, “as (a) Research Associate in Molecular Imaging Research/Neurology” he would have had a fairly hefty education and would have known some basics about the language.  Below are the pictures he included:

So let me ask:  would YOU rent from this guy?

Comments
  1. Hmm… Certainly sounds a bit dodgy – but then, it also sounds possible…

    Is it a UK landline number or a mobile? I could call it for you and see if he sounds like he’s at least got some education, if you like? Not that it will really tell you much either way…

    More to the point – what happens if there are any problems with the place? Chances are he won’t be able to sort out repairs etc very quickly if he’s busy and abroad…

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      I really think the issue of the rental application provides the overarching caution to this tale. I could be a street person for all he knows, and any cheques I send could be rubber. My guess is that he doesn’t care. If he happens upon a bum, there is nothing lost. But if he hooks an upstanding member of polite (and moneyed) society, then he’s got it made.

      Any self-respecting landlord would want to do a check first. I’m convinced it’s a scam. Even the phone number could be a link to a throw-away cell. Thanks for the offer though!

      Like

  2. Dave says:

    Nigerian scam. They get more and more creative all the time. LOL. :-)

    Like

  3. Randy Hawes says:

    SCAM

    My brother & sis’n-law almost fell for this last summer in Victoria, from a Craigslist ad. The email from the ‘owner’ was almost exactly the same as yours above, except his ‘occupation’ was different. I forget what it was. I knew it as soon as I read the email. 100% scam

    Good luck with the hunting! Always research any apartment offer thoroughly

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      *Fascinating*. This too was from craiglist (I forgot to mention that). So it’s very likely the same people.

      I was tempted to write back to him, and string him along for a bit. But decided that would get too boring, fast.

      Like

  4. Abe's Blog says:

    Wow! Cool scam!

    My red flags are:
    1. Anyone who says they are a “kind and honest man” is probably completely the opposite.
    2. Sounds like if your toilet broke, you would be on the hook for replacing it.
    3. It is convenient that he took these professional photos with him to the UK… uh, right?
    4. The family that is currently living in this apartment is really going to be bummed when you kick in the door (because he keeps forgetting to send the key) and you move all your stuff in. Will you share their bed? Or sleep on the leather couch?
    5. This is an interesting scam that I haven’t heard about before. Clever.

    Like

    • Abe's Blog says:

      Also, isn’t there a way to report this on Craigslist? He might get some other sucker. I know this because of my work as a brain/leg/elbow specialist doctor assistant who does specialized work in my off time as a professional and very nice, good looking man.

      Like

    • wolfshades says:

      1. That’s certainly what I’ve learned in life experiences.
      2. Absolutely.
      3. I forgot to mention: the file names for this pics were dates – and all were dated for 2009. Not suspicious at all. Nope. Nosiree.
      4. I think there won’t be a leather couch, and the apartment will look nothing like the pics too. Which will be a bummer. I’m sure the nice current tenants can find another place to live.
      5. It *is* clever. At first glance it actually fooled me. Then the alarm bells in my brain started going off. Which annoyed the rest of my cubicle farm-mates. (“THINK WOLF, THINK! Keep your mouth shut when those alarms go off – at least the noise will get muffled.”)

      Like

  5. wolfshades says:

    Ok guess what, gang? I just found a problem with this blog format. Replies don’t go immediately beneath each other. Means I have to change it up.

    Stay tuned.

    Like

    • I spent almost two full days (literally) trying to get a theme that worked for me on here! It was driving me mad because I’d do loads of work getting a banner to fit and background etc then find something was crap! I’m still not happy with the blog width now, but it’ll do.

      My advice is go for the themes with the widgets, because they make life a lot easier.

      Like

  6. TheIdiotSpeaketh says:

    No way!…Red Flags everywhere….and you caught them all. Anyone that falls for this, is gonne be out $1600 bucks real quick. I don’t know about Toronto….but that sure looks like an Apartment which would easily cost double what he was asking.

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      That’s what I figure too. In fact, I’ve priced out some similar apartments and they’re exactly as you say – about double. Actually more than double, because the ones I looked at weren’t furnished.

      Have to admit: it took me a few seconds to figure out it was a scam. And so that’s when I did a more thorough analysis of his email. Figured it wasn’t enough to just ignore it either: this one deserved a public PSA – because you KNOW some people are going to get caught.

      Like

  7. HA! Awesome!

    I have yet to ever use Craiglist for anything at all. It’s just too interwoven with too much crap to bother — Oh well. Good luck with your hunt!

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      Thanks, gorgeous!

      So far I’ve had some luck with Craigslist, but only in the selling department. Most reputable sellers (when it comes to renting) have their own websites, which they use Craigslist to link to.

      Like

  8. Dave says:

    I’d agree with Carmen as to CL. If there isn’t a verifiable local phone number in the ad, don’t even bother.

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      There’s a UK phone number. But that doesn’t mean anything either- it could be a throwaway.

      Like

      • Dave says:

        Hi Carmen! :-D Actually, just today I bought a garden tractor off CL. It was a kick-ass deal and my elbow is sore from patting myself on the back. I’m in a semi-rural area and most of the locals use CL to buy, sell and swap. After a while the scam posts become fairly evident and easy to spot although likely more difficult in a large metropolitan area, as the Wolf has discovered.

        Wolf, if you’re able to manage it, I’d highly recommend you get your head into the ‘buy’ mode. Maybe not so easy in TO these days, but well worth it in the long term. First house I ever bought was 1257 King St. W. The owner was a slum landlord with a number of rental houses in Parkdale and a few Indian restaurants in the Bloor/Bathurst area. At the time he mentioned that he was ‘doing me a favor’ selling me the house (it was a dump) and my thoughts were, of course, ‘Yeah…right.’ Well, he was. I paid $70K for the place and after some not-so-major-fix-up sold it for $180K three years later. I certainly had the jitters going into it as I’d just gotten married and was trying to forget how to spell ‘commitment’, but I must say, it was one of the wisest decisions I’ve ever made while adrift in this Sea of Stupidity, which is my life.

        Best of luck.

        Like

        • wolfshades says:

          You’re absolutely right Dave. However…if I want to remain living in Toronto, the cost for a house is just too far out of reach at the moment. Moving elsewhere may make it more possible I think.

          Lots to consider.

          Like

  9. Dave says:

    Just wondering, Wolf. What is the average home-sale price in TO these days? Likely far different than what I remember.

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      I think the average is around $400K. Might be more though.

      I checked out the housing in Cornwall (we may have discussed this already, I’m not sure). The prices there ranged from $100K to $200 for a bungalow. Pretty amazing deals really, and from what I saw, these were houses that were set up in fairly nice picket-fence neighbourhoods. Too bad the town itself is dreadfully boring.

      Like

  10. Dave says:

    Oy. $400K. That hurts.

    Never been to Cornwall.

    Another meager Dave suggestion, here. You’re a writer , a talented one at that, and one in need of a base of operations. Your daily concerns shouldn’t require you trifling over how to feed yourself. Think ‘Hemingway’, maybe, if that makes any sense.

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      In that Hemingway went to Paris because at the time it was a cheaper place to live, you might be right. I don’t mind the suggestions at all Dave. This one makes a lot of sense – I really don’t want to have think about money all the time.

      Thanks for the compliment too.

      Like

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