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australia, ocean

Detours off Britta Blvd


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new Nigerian scam - renters beware?
australia, ocean
Quite an elaborate & creative scam, new to me, so in the interest of no one getting burned, here are details of a recently discovered bogus house rental scheme ...

Happened across a Craiglist rental listing for a house on my street that I had just seen inside a couple weeks ago as an open house for sale. Rent price VERY attractive for a single-family home! Friend contacts the listing, waiting reply. Later in the day, mysteriously the listing was flagged for removal...typo in price perhaps? Too good to be true? C'est la vie!

Friend receives a reply via email with a detailed description of the house that matches what I personally saw at the open house, a sad story how the for sale sign might still be up at house because they just changed their minds about selling because of wife's illness and moved immediately to West Africa taking the house keys with them, renting furnished, just want someone to take care of their home well like it's their own, no smokers or heavy drinkers so already declined one potential tenant, plain text rental application included, please send references, signed Rev Ryan Kim, grammar and florid language suspiciously like common Nigerian email scams.

Story sounds a bit fishy, but could be believable, especially all the details about the house interior that match what I saw in person. Friend replies saying she's interested. Overly-verbose reply arrives with baseline message "send deposit via Western Union then keys will be sent courier delivery" to be arranged by calling a Nigerian phone number, no mention of lease agreement, contract, anything. Highly suspicious, but how to verify independently? Can we find out who is the real owner & does it match the email? If the story happens to be true, friend wants the deal before anyone else gets it!

I search for sale listings for the house, since if it's really not for sale anymore, the realtor would know, plus be able to confirm actual homeowner. When I see how many photos were shown on the several listings that popped up immediately, I realize all the detailed knowledge that swung the story over the believable line could just have come from the photos & listing descriptions. Friend tries calling a couple listing numbers to find a realtor but no concrete answer. When I finally get home, I drive past the sale sign at the house to get the actual realtor info. Searching the listings on the realtor's website finally found the house, with documents attached including the property inspection and title clearance, showing a totally different owner name than the email chain....BUSTED!

They must troll through sale listings, write up their sob story based on the detailed description & photos, create gmail accounts however they like that matches their story, create a bogus Craigslist listing (maybe elsewhere too?), see what responses they get too hook people in until they're busted. If they actually found the sale listing I did with documents, they could have been even smarter and found the actual owners from the title clearance to use as signature!

What I can't believe is the creativity & effort involved in such dishonesty just to trick a couple thousand dollars out of someone! Since they obviously had no keys, all they'd have gotten ever was the initial deposit, nothing further. I wonder how many homes for sale have bogus rental listings?

In other news, I'm still trying to get all my last details done for a real "final" kitchen photo, but the pantry frosted glass is still on order, and I've bought the pantry shelving but will need a good chunk of time to cut the shelves to size...which won't be until after I have my work friends over this Saturday since they have all patiently tolerated my endless blather all spring about my kitchen remodel, so I asked them to please come help me celebrate!

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Wow, that's a new one, but not a surprising development. Really the second you see "Nigeria" or even "West Africa" you can be 99.9% confident it's a scam. The fact that they "only" are getting a couple thousand bucks out of it.... well that goes a long way in Africa, especially since you can potentially snag many victims at once. And if your friend had been gullible enough to send the money, it probably wouldn't have stopped there. The scammers would have extended their story and come up with a reason that more payments were needed. Once they have someone on the hook, they will milk them for every penny they can get, and the victim, having already bought into the scam and not wanting to believe they have been duped, will often continue to go along with it.

When my wife and I got our puppy, we read sob stories from people who had been duped by CL ads selling expensive high-demand puppy breeds at bargain basement prices, and had lost their money to offshore Western Union accounts, never to be seen again. The perfect photo of the perfect puppy (or the perfect house) is all that is needed to make many people believe.

When shopping online on a price comparison site, I would sometimes see sites that offered insanely low prices on hard to get electronics goods. After a bit of research I found that the Nigerian scammers actually now set up entire fake e-commerce sites, with shopping carts and everything. Of course they require you to pay through Western Union "so that they can keep their prices low". People who fell for this were kept on the hook for weeks or months due to "shipping delays" and other attempts to milk more money, until finally the site shut down and disappeared (and the scammers created 2-3 new ones to take its place).

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