Over the years I’ve written many articles on the web about various scams operating through emails and sites such as craigslist.com. I’m happy to say the response has been very positive and many readers have written me offering thanks.
It was because of the popularity of my blog that I created this site. The general rule is, if it sounds like a scam, it probably is; and if it seems to good to be true, it is.
You're not going to win millions in a lottery you have never heard of and didn't buy a ticket for, you are not going to inherit millions from a relative you've never heard of, and no one is going to pay you millions to help them smuggle even more millions out of another country.
They're Extremely Amusing
Sent: Saturday, June 13, 2009 10:25:18 PM
Subject: Comment on Rental Scams
Man, wish I'd thought to look for this site yesterday. I actually got the opposite version of this scam - I was looking for a property to rent and received an email telling me that as a first-time landlord and missionary in Africa.
The owner of the property somehow couldn't find a real estate agent to handle rentals, and so would personally need my information and, I'm assuming would have requested X amount in payment before never providing me with a key to the property.
I pretty much saw it was a scam as soon as I read "missionary in Africa" so I ended communications with an admittedly juvenile email calling them out and asking them to remain just as stupid as they were so that they would be easy to spot as scammers in the future.
Now after looking up these types of scams, I wish I'd taken the time to take the whole thing farther. Thanks for posting these scams and your responses to them.
They're extremely amusing to read.
I was a Little Apprehensive
From: Mel email@example.com To: Creel<firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Monday, June 8, 2009 6:43:40 AM Subject: Re: job scams
I was afraid it was a scam as soon as he sent the reply introducing himself and talking about cashier checks and buy stuff for orphans.
Thanks for taking a look. I was a little apprehensive about asking my husband what he thought since he can't understand how people can get caught up in things like this. After being in law enforcement for over a dozen years, he tends to be cynical about people to start with.
I guess I'm going to have to stick to the newspaper if I want to find a part-time job to help out with some medical bills. Anyway, thanks again. It was very eye opening to read some of the sections of your website.
She Said She Wired $1,300
From: xxxxxxxxxxxxx To: Michael Creel <email@example.com> Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 11:19:00 PM Subject: Beware Rental Scams Operating on Craigslist.com
Comment by Billie Hillier:
I had a lady call me about my house that I am renting in VA. She said she wired $1,300 to "my husband who is a minister in Nigeria on a mission with his family" - fortunately she looked at the tax records and saw we are in LV, NV - NOT Nigeria and got my number from a neighbor.
She sent me the emails and I am so surprised ANYONE couldn't tell it was a scam. AND when are the bank going to start helping clients "are you sure you want to send to Nigeria"
The Second Email Really Made Me Suspicious
From: j. gibson Date: Sunday, April 26, 2009, 10:09 AM To: Michael Creel Subject: Fossil Hunter
I got two emails from a British Fossil Hunter named Vincent Daniel. The first one sounded funny as it asked for details and photos that were already included in my craigslist ad.
The second email really made me suspicious so I decided to Google "British fossil hunter Vincent Daniel" and found your blog. Thanks for the information on the scam. Here is a copy of the second email:
--------------------- Hello, Many thanks to your prompt response and brief details on this unit. I am indeed a potential tenant and serious about renting this unit. As a British Fossils hunter, Having discovered lots of Dinosaurs fossil such as Dinosaurs Megalosaurus ,Oviparous, Pinacosaurus, Saurornithoides, Velociraptor,plesiosaur, Ichthyosaurus etc. Am coming to state to Trade those fossils with some US Museums.
In view of my work schedule, I would want us to finalize basic arrangements. I'm and I am currently working with British Fossil hunters team on late 1880's Imperial Dinosaur Fossil Research in Manchester City.
London UK . I will be in the states for the next two years during my stay I will be Trading dinosaur fossils with Some USA Museums and Research with some America Palaeontologist on fossils hunting and field work.
Am willing to offer you 1month rent + the security deposit and utilities if any to secure this unit prior to my arrival to state, My Trustee in the states will be the one to handle the Move in fee, and we will instruct him to send you the check for this as soon as you give us the go ahead to make payment to you.
We can start the lease at your earliest convenient time and we will be effecting a two years lease although, I will be arriving on 5th May 2009. You can prepare the lease in my NAME.
Let me know how to move ahead as we intend to complete this deal before I move in by 5th May 2009, we will let you know the exact date as soon as we get a booking on a flight to the states.
If you require any specific information, pals let me know or you can call me on my cell phone, please dial as presented for international calls .. +447506713896 } P.S: Forward the lease agreement/application form to Review it ahead of time. I would eventually have it signed physically when I arrive. In my opinion, appending signatories should be done properly and at best physically.
This is an international situation and am not sure how you can run my employment and Credit check background, there's no way we can go about this until I arrive in the state, hope you understand my concern.
With this arrangement, my Trustee in the states, will be effecting your payment deposit to you. I believe we can work together and ensure every arrangements that we shall both execute in line with my taking up the tenancy should be done accordingly to ensure we have a proper understanding.
For Payment, Get back with the below details 1- Name to be written on the American check 2- Mailing address ,City ,Zip Code ,State 3- Home Number and Mobile Number
Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.
I am Trying to Rent a Room Out
From: ross palmer firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: page on nigerian rental scammers To: "Michael Creel" Date: Sunday, April 26, 2009, 10:09 AM
Thanks for your page on rental scammers from nigeria. I am trying to rent a room out in my house using craigslist, and something smelled fishy about the emails I was getting. Now I know exactly what's going on. Thanks for the heads up.
What happens if you cash the check they send you?
Rental Scam Detection Tool
From: Dugdale@yahoo.com Subject: Rental Scams Operating on Craigslist.com To: "Michael Creel" Date: Monday, April 20, 2009, 1:02 AM
I created a rental scam detection tool that you might find interesting. You can try it here: http://www.pickrent.com/stuff/scamquiz.cfm It would be an honor if you could let your readers know about our tool on this page. Thank you so much for any consideration.
i had hoped to hear back from you but i know your busy. I really apprecaite your help. I think Nigeria maybe where the devil's throne is. LOL i hope you are still investigating and i do have some ridiculous 419 emails after i found out what a 419 scammer was and that was due to you .
Just wanted to say Thanks AGAIN AND GOD BLESS!
Last Week My Brother Was Scammed
From: Vladimir email@example.com Subject: HELP To: "Michael Creel" Date: Saturday, November 8, 2008, 9:10 AM
Message details: From: Vladimir Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: HELP
I'm a foreign student (sorry for my English) and I need your help.
Last week my brother was scammed by the same person that you describe in your post.
My brother lives in Cleveland and he was looking for a job. He found an ad on craiglist.com that a help needed. The scammer sent him a check for 2900$ and told him to deduct 500$(first salary) and to send the rest to the address
My brother did this operation, but later the bank said that the check was falsified! Now my brother has to return to the bank 2400$
Please, help us. Give us any advise what we can do.
I Have Never Read Anything Like This Sting You Lay Out
From: alexandra Sent: August 10, 2008 Email: email@example.com Subject: incredible scammers; thank you for your work
I have never read anything like this sting you lay out. Amazing. What stuns me is that people actually fall for these idiots.
I started writing back the Nigerian ones, saying that all my money was in the Banco de PhuckYou Ver YMuch. That seemed to stop them.
I applaud you for your investigations. I am moving to Arkansas to do over fixer upper houses. I wrote a few brokers. Then, it occured to me that they might think I am some sort of scammer since I have the word Costa Rica on my email posts. Jeepers! I removed it.
I want to thank you for posting information on the internet about this scam. I am a lanlord and I recived an email ...(some of the email posted below)
Thanks for the details on the Property, i am satisfied and will like to go ahead with the renting process,i will like you to go ahead and please reserve the property for me. So i will be needing the following informations so that the check for payment of the deposit $1250 can be processed and posted to you soon.
FULL NAME TO BE ON CHECK:....................... CONTACT ADDRESS WITH YOUR ZIP CODE:............. PHONE NUMBER :................................... YOUR NEAREST AIRPORT:..........................
When I Googled the company she supposedly worked for your warning popped up .I thought it was too good to be real and was leary anyway.
I just wanted to thank you personally for your Real Estate Blog - Liars Loans are back. Having posted an ad seeking a loan because I am in some financial difficulty, I was contacted by "Bernard Willy" from Alconcon, Madrid, Spain with the unbelievable offer of a €10,000.00 loan at 3% interest which would have been the answer to all my problems.
I thought all was okay until I was requested to furnish a payment for non appearance for the amount €374.00 for "Insurance". I decided to do an online check, came across your blog and low and behold there was the same loan firm but had the name David Williams as the lender. I almost fell for it, but not quite.
Thank you again for your insight, because you saved me from being worse off than I already am. My best wishes to you, Keep fighting the good cause. Deirdre
I am a real estate agent in Sherwood, Arkansas and I received an email that was almost duplicate to your blog post(s) about rental scams on craigslist. I just wanted you to know that posting this information helped me to not fall for the scam.
I was already a bit skeptical to begin with. I did google the alleged company and found your blogsite. So, this is just a thank you for posting this information, I will be diligent in getting the word out about this scam as others may not be as skeptical as myself.
Thanks for your blog. Recently I published an ad for a house for rent. I got similar type of email like yours. Most of them said they live in UK. Among them I got 2 emails from different person with same email body( each and every words are same). Here's the copy of this email:-
"Robertini Darek" Subject: $2000 / 3br - Beautiful Spacious 3 Beds,2 Baths Single Family House for Rent (Franklin) (map) To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kindly bear with me, i came accross the posted property for rent. i'll like to know if its still available you can email me back with the rent details like rent fee, move in deposit,
long term lease require and mode of payment, do you have pictures? so we can proceed and have some things done concerning the Rent.and please let know the move-in date? I will be expecting to read answers to the above questions asap Best Regards. ------------------- I got same email few days ego from another person name Weaser Kent . That time I thought I didn't realize and sent all the details. Now when I got same email from Robertini Darek then I understand it is a scam from same group. they already have my phone no. Is this going to be a problem for me? Also I don't understand they mention some address and phone no also. is this address , phone no is also wrong?
I am new to USA so I don't have much idea. If you can could you please inform check this address and phone no? Also I need some advice to stop this scam. Can you tell me more details that how you inform police about this and how cought scammer through western union?
Your Information Prevented Me From Being a MAYBE VICTIM
just seeing what you had to say put closure to a rental that seemed to good to be true. see below mind you the part where I stated I will cash the check first I think scared him as i havent heard from him in a few days - but by finding your information online prevented me from being a MAYBE VICTIM and that I thankyou ...
see below and this was from an add of craigslist JUST LAST WEEK......SO THEY ARE STILL OUT THERE if using this to warn another vistim please enure all my personal information is no longer there - thankyou
I believe someone is trying to scam me on Craigslist. I would like to send you a copy of the email I received. I have a house listed for rent and the guy wanted more information so I sent it to him along with 3 pictures.
Then he wrote back and said he wanted to rent it and wanted to send me the 2700 for first month's rent and security deposit. He also said he had an interior decorator that was in charge of furnishing the place for him.
He wanted to send me a check in the amount of 8400 so I could take out my share and forward the rest to his decorator and asked me for all my information, including nearest airport, so he could send me the check.
He said he was from the UK. Fortunately I've had enough of those Nigerian scams in my email box that this whole thing threw up several red flags. He told me the name of the company he works for is Wen Consultants LTD. When I googled it, I ended up at your web site that talks about Craigslist scams.
Thanks for taking the time to post that whole scenerio you went through. It was comical to read and also very educational. You really played it up good.
I sent a copy of my emails to and from him to the Craigslist scam department. What should I tell this guy if he writes back to me again after I don't respond to his letter for my information?
I got such a response to my ad from a "British Fossil Hunter", a Dr. Farrell, only he could not spell "British" correctly which I thought was odd for a Phd from the UK. He even sent pictures of himself, wife, and daughter. I could not find any reference for the group he said he worked for.
I found the identical letter in your blog, only the name was changed.
You saved me from a scam and I wish to thank you and commend you for your service to the public.
I am just reading up on the rental scams operating on Craig'slist.com. We appear to be in a "scam" situation with a prospective renter inquiring on renting our home, sight unseen, supposedly working for a (from what I've been able to find) bogus Architectural Institute.
Once we are able to confirm this is a scam, is there any way we can work to turn these people over to the proper authorities?
Thank you for having this website. Thank you so much! Those same people tried to pull one over on me too and thanks to your website, I know what his intentions are. These scammers are horrible!
I listed my home. He emailed me with interest. I emailed him back with pictures and then he emailed me the whole 'I'm interested. Take this payment and cash it. Keep rent & deposit, and give me the rest.' I haven't emailed him back since the last email.
Thanks for your website. Much appreciation,
I Knew Immediately it Was Scam
Message details: From: Jennifer Email: umeadows@xxxxxx Subject: Rental Scam
I sent them info on the property then they sent the below message to me. I knew immediately it was scam and googled the address they gave me. That is how I found your page. ------------- Hello,
Thanks for the details on the Property, i am satisfied and will like to go ahead with the renting process,i will like you to go ahead and please reserve the property for me. So i will be needing the following informations so that the check for payment of the deposit $705 can be processed and posted to you soon.
FULL NAME TO BE ON CHECK:....................... CONTACT ADDRESS WITH YOUR ZIP CODE:............. PHONE NUMBER :................................... YOUR NEAREST AIRPORT:..........................
I will also want to notify you that i have in the mean time arrange with an interior decorator who will be handling the purchase of furnitures,entertainment system and other appliances that i will need in the property,they will as well be incharge of moving down my luggages down to the states.
So the check of $5,900 will be sent over to you which is a relocation grant by my employer, and all you need to do is deduct the deposit $705 and you will forward the rest to the Decorators so i can have the place all prepared for my arrival. All applications and lease will be signed as soon as i arrive.
Also for familiarization I am lilly dong,I am 45 yrs of age,a British citizen,I work with Wen Consultants Ltd. (UK), as a Estate Consultant, I am a Christian, reserved in Nature, Non moker also i don't keep pets.
I look forward to meeting you and hope to have a good relationship as a tenant with you. I await the details. you can reach my at this number Phone: Cell 1: +44 703 190 7802 + 44 703 190 0823
Below is my present landlords information for reference : Name:Williams Bill Same Address35 Ynys Wen Booth House, Felinfoel Llanelli SA14 8BE Email:email@example.com
Today I received an odd and urgent email from a male in the UK (wales) wanting info from me so he could rent my rental property. He wants to send funds to cover security deposit and 3 months rent. Because his local was odd I googled it, as well as the company he says he works for. Somehow your blog came up with one of those two searches.
After reading some of your blog, I still do not understand why they are doing this and what they have to gain. If you would, please explain. I would be glad to forward Patrick Riches email to you to help catch these guys.
I currently am renting property out in the Las Vegas area. I'm all about doing proper due diligence on anyone and any company that I will be doing business with.
I just came across a scammer telling me that they will be mailing me a check for all the required move in costs and then some for interior decorators to come in. I did my own background check then also came across your blog.
I put craigslist scams in my browser and got your blog. Thanks for the information.
I have a house for rent, as well as an apartment for rent, and I have gotten several emails from people that I think are trying to scam me.
I was waiting for the request of bank information, or something that would alert me for sure, but my antenna has been going off since about the second email I received. One of them is from Australia (or so he says) and three are from the UK. Two of them are "doctors" and one is a "chemist."
The thing that alerted me was they ALL seem to use a similar form of this sentence: Please send me a copy of the lease, fill it out with my and my wife's name, and then I will sign upon my arrival, as I am of the opinion that such documents are best handled physically.
They all use poor grammar and sentence structure, and they are all coming to do research with a pharmaceutical company.
The thing is, I am from Kalamazoo Michigan, and it IS the home of a large pharmaceutical company, and there are 3900 jobs at a MPI research facility that are coming to the area, so the emails are not so far fetched, although I have a healthy dose of skepticism in me.
I'd love to cause them further aggravation, so I am playing along with them, but any ideas on how to drop the final bomb on THEM to let them know I am on to them?
I am Glad That I Could be Aware of This Scam
From: Naresh firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Thank you for putting rental scam on your webpage. To: Michael Creel Date: Monday, June 2, 2008, 4:06 PM
I put one ad on criaglist and I am getting few emails from outside Canada. I thought of google it before I reply them. I found that the same email id with different name sent the same email for seeking room.
I am glad that I could able to aware of this scam before I communicate with her.
I sent my reply: --------------------------------------------------------- Cute lady,
I am a lesbian!!!!!!!!!!! So I prefer male as my roommate. By the by, my friend lives in London and he is looking for true companion. Which part of London you are from. Can I get your contact number and address. I will ask him to contact you.
Cheers, Naresh ----------------------------------------- Here is scammer email---
In search of a room or an apartment ,i came across the posted rent advert & ll like to know if its still available . I am in London as at now where i just finished my professional programme and relocating.
I am a friendly and easy going person who like to acquaint with people from diverse races ,background and origin. my hobbies include music, movies, computers, poetry and giving an helping hand to whoever that needs it.
My interest is not limited in anyway and i love trying out new things .I will like to know the location of the room/apartment ,with more details about the actual amount to be paid.
Best Regards, Julie. --------------------------------------------------- I really appreciate your post. Thanks for sharing your experience. I use to work in Seattle's Emergency response system while ago. But any how, I thought of sending you friendly note of my appreciation.
I am Trying to Rent a Condo on Craigslist
From: Cheryl Karcic email@example.com To: Michael Creel Sent: Saturday, May 10, 2008 2:47:55 AM Subject: scam
thanks so much for your tips. I am trying to rent a condo on craigs list and in the last 2 days have received 3 nearly duplicate e-mails from someone who says they are from wen consultants and are either from canada or the U.K.