Archives: craigslist scams

I May Have Gone Too Far With This One…

I consider myself pretty street smart. Usually, I can sniff out the con artist in the crowd. And I think I’m pretty good at knowing when someone’s being disingenuous. I knew, for instance, right away that Make Mike Jason Smith was a Nigerian in a very, very stylish 20-something’s clothing when he emailed and said he was interested in the room I had for rent on Craigslist. I knew that all his cronies were frauds too (though that may have had less to do with my street smarts with more with the fact that ALL the emails followed the same basic formula. Every last one of them “was into fashion design”, and “was not gay, but was totally, totally cool with it”.)

Something about this place, though -or maybe just this period in my life- has turned me into something of a village idiot. I have not fallen prey to one, but TWO different scams in the last year. The first one involved a teenager selling overpriced magazine subscriptions door to door this past Fall. And the second one happened on Saturday.

I’m going to make some effort to defend myself here… even though I feel ashamed and embarrassed at what was an undeniably stupid decision on my part, made in haste, and without listening to my gut instincts.

On Saturday, CLH and I went looking for houses to rent. We had seen what amounted to a whole pile of uninhabitable wrecks, with a few cookie cutter condo units thrown in for good measure. We were exhausted. But we’d seen this ad the night before that looked too good to be true (BIG. RED. FLAG. IGNORED.) and we wanted to jump on it. So, we stopped in at a local bar to see if we could set up our laptops, revisit the ad, and follow the instructions for setting up a viewing. There are a few things to consider here before I go any further which might explain why this particular scam worked on us. First, CLH and I are desperate to move. We want out BAD. Secondly, we were hot, thirsty, cranky, and had very low blood sugar when finally stopped to sit down. Thirdly, we couldn’t get either of our laptops to access the wireless Internet, so we had to resort to using CLH’s new 3G iPhone to access the website. And, as everyone knows, though the new iPhone can do many, many, many things, it still has a screen the size of a slice of Spam, and many things that would otherwise look suspect on a big screen look perfectly normal on this tiny screen. So you can kind of understand why we thought the request to fill out an semi-application online seemed like a perfectly legitimate request. We even asked our real-estate agent friend about it and she seemed to think it was perfectly routine.

It turns out it is NOT perfectly routine. It is also not a legitimate service. It IS a scam designed to have you fork over $15 dollars (again, not an ungodly sum- hence our willingness) and some pertinent information so that this “third party” can “pre-screen” you for your potential landlord. When you initially email the owner of the property, you are sent a message back from some ridiculous made up name (I got “Kenna Chillinskas”, which I’m thinking of naming my first dog) redirecting you to a website ( that will then ask you to fill out an application. What is actually happening is this: the scam artists are grabbing ads from craigslist and the like, deleting the original owner’s information, replacing it with theirs, and claiming that they have the ability to schedule a showing of the property… right after you give them some information via their nifty little website.

Somehow, we avoided surrendering our social security numbers, but the ass clowns at now have our current address and phone numbers. I did a little sleuthing this morning to find out more about the site (thank jeebus for Google), and found multitudes of information about it, including a replica of the EXACT email I was sent when I emailed the “owner” asking about the property.

The more I read this morning, the more angry I became. I eventually had to walk away from my computer because smoke was coming out of my ears and I didn’t want to have to explain to the neighbors that those fire trucks out front? Yeah, those were there because I had set the couch on fire with the stream of flame that had come shooting out of my mouth.

Still, I needed to do something. So, I just wrote down the first thing that came to my mind. And then I hit “send”. I’m not exactly sure where this touch of bravado (or violence) came from… though, if I had to guess, I would say it came from the gaping, gory crater in my soul where I used to house a love for all things craigslist – and which has been replaced by a blackened, hardened little rock which I now use to pelt email scammers in the groin. Behold, the writings of a woman scorned (and not just a little out of her mind):

“You have been reported to the local police as a potential scammer. The
authorities at Craisglist have been notified as well. If you don’t
take down your ad, your email address will be used as a vehicle to
infiltrate your personal information, and you will be hunted down and
possibly killed. I have my people working on this. You have just
messed with the wrong folks.”

She REALLY wants to live here….

Hi There,

I got your mail. Thanks for geting back to me so quick and I am extremely interested in ur room since you said you are not expecting it to be too long and i don’t want you to rent it out to any other person…… I will inform company client I worked in the states for before I quit to arrnage for my last payment to you so that you can deduct the payment of the room out of it. You seem to be a very good and nice person. I want you to know that i’m a very straight forward and honest person. I contacted the person who i worked for when i was in the states. The man is owing me and he is ready to pay me with acheck. I will be paying ahead my arrival for a month, which is very important and that will secure the Place for me, and as soon as I arrive others important things will be taken care of before moving in the Place. I want you t o know that the first month payment will be made in full via Certified Bank Cashier’s Check or Money Order and that will stand as commitment ahead my arrival. So i will inform him to issue out the check to you, so that the check can stand as the payment of the room. All you got to do now is to send me your full name name, contact address and phone number so that i can forward it to my client who will issue the check out to you… As soon as i get these info i requested for, i will forward them to my client immediately. As soon as you recieve the check you will deduct the frist month out of it you will now help me forward the remaning balance to my traveling manager so that i can use it to book for my flight back to the states. I just want to make sure i get the room before i get back to the state.. I will like stay there for a year even more that till when i will have my own personal place but I will prefer month to month lease.
More About me: ABOUT ME:
Name: Rose Michaels
E yes: Black
Age: 26yrs
Height: 5′ 6′ (167cm)
Weight: 122 pounds (55.0 kg)
Body Style: Athletic/Fit Activity
Level: Active
Smoking: No
Drinking: Socially
Marital Status: Single
Children: I have no kids
Sign: Virgo
Languages I speak: English & Spanish
Ethnicity: Spanish
Education: MCSA/MCSE
Occupation: Fashion Designer
My favorites are;
My favorite cuisines: Barbecue, Chinese/Dim Sum, Deli, Eastern-European, Fast Food/Pizza, French, Greek,Indian, Italian, Japanese/Sushi, Mexican, Seafood,
Soul Food, Thai, Vietnamese
My favorite music: Dance/Electronica, Disco, Easy Listening, Pop/Top 40, Rap/Hip Hop, Soul/R&B and Soundtracks.
My favorite physical activities: Basketball, Working Out, Dancing, Swiming and Hiking/Walking I love travelling, sporting and enjoy meeting people. I don’t smoke or drink but i do not mind people who do being around me. Am cool headed and easy go ing person with no criminal record and i like to have a roommmate or neighabour who is very responsible and understanding,someone i can really get a long. As soon as you get this mail pls get back to me with the info i requested for so that every thing can be done fast. Take care and I will be looking forward to hear from you soon.

Thanks and have a good time..
Warmest Regards,

My response:

Dear Rose,
I’m going to do away with the niceties and cut right to the chase. The rooms are all but yours. You won me over with a single line in your response: Your body type. Now, I know most landlords wouldn’t care about this sort of thing (and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to sell someone housing based on their physical fitness) but, well, it’s important to me. You see, Rose, I need your body. I can’t afford to rent to just any fat ass. No, Rose. What I need in my house is a lean mean muscle machine… what we in America call “a hard body”. Can you be a hard body for me, Rose? I’ll tell you why this is so important, Rose. It’s the yard. The yard is a shambles. It needs a LOT of work. Work that only those possessing the body type “athletic/fit activity” are going to be able to handle.

You see, Rose, when we moved into this place, we had high hopes of making that yard the new Garden of Eden. We were going to prune the fruit trees and tame the lawn and really get those vegetable patches producing. But, you know how it goes, Rose. Sometimes life just gets in the way. And sometimes you have less time for big projects than you thought. So, I need to have my yard maintained, Rose, and it’s going to be the responsibility of the renter to keep it looking good. I wouldn’t want the (racist) neighbors to get any ideas about letting their lawns go because mine has gone to seed! Anyway, Rose, this yard, it needs help. It needs your athleticism and it needs it now.

Do you have experience pushing a lawnmower, Rose? The kind that neither plugs in nor uses gas? Because we only have the old fashioned kind. And the yard is nearly a quarter of an acre. On a slope. So, every two weeks, Rose, you’re going to have to put on your Wellies and get out there and mow. It should only take about half the day. That will leave you the other half of the day for the other yard work. There are the rose bushes that need pruning, the ornamentals that will need thinning, the blackberries that will need trimming… and that’s just the front yard! Oh, I almost forgot! I hope you’re not afraid of coyotes, rats, rabbits, or raccoons, Rose. Your ability to run a mile without getting winded will really come in handy when you encounter our charming neighborhood friend, “Bandit”, going through the compost pile!

Anywho, Rose, I’m sure your company client’s accounting department is familiar with the procedure for illegal Internet scams, so you just have them wire me one million US dollars right away. That will cover your first week. Once you’ve learned to operate the WeedWacker, we can lower the rent to something more reasonable… say, something in the hundreds of thousands.

Your Pal With A Green Thumb (in your eye),

My Response to a Potential Renter

Here’s the email I received this evening, after posting my ad on Craigslist, from one “Make Jason” (that’s his email return address name).

Hello ,
I saw your advert on craigslist .com ,I’m interested in renting the room . My name is Smith Mike (27 years) ,I am a young male,I am a fashion designer , i’m friendly professional male looking for housing in the USA area in hopes of moving closer to my Job , i am a fashion designer . I would like to shear 1 bedroom and a private/ share bathroom with male or female gender, I prefer to have straight male or female as a roommates. I’d like to sign 1 year lease and planning to move as soon as possible meanig that i will be staying for a minimum of 12 months. My budget is at the range of $500-$1800 per month including the utilities .
Please kindly get ack to me with the total movein for the first month?
A little bit about me: I currently live and work in ,San Diego California, working with 005 WAREHOUSE WHOLESALE CLOTHING & APPAREL our Head office is in melbourne in Australia . I’m not a huge partier either. I enjoy the performing arts, I don’t smoke but have no problem with people who do, I’m pretty neat but not a clean freak.More i don’t have pets but i will get to like it if you have I’m pretty low-key,independent, considerate and very friendly! I’m not a partier, drinker, drug-abuser, or smoker by ANY means. I’m not a super clean freak, but I will certainly contribute to the cleaning of the common areas of the house. I’m pretty quiet and won’t have > a lot of guests
over… I’ll rarely have overnight guests. Please email me if you feel I’d be a good fit for your next roomie!
Incase there is needs for me to attach my pictures please feel free to ask ,Please
kindly get back to me with the total rent for the first month and deposite if included.
Smith Mike

And here’s my response:

Hello, Mike, Make, Jason, Smith, or whatever else you call yourself (all seem suspicious to me).

Thank you kindly for your interest in my house! Your first month’s rent, should you choose to accept the terms of our contract, will be 1 million US dollars. I know that seems high Mike Make Jason Smith, but it is for a good reason. You see, we have to keep the first month’s rent that high because, Mike Make Jason Smith, there are many dishonest people in the world, and we need to charge a high price to protect ourselves from those dishonest people. Let me explain what they do, Mike Make Jason Smith. Those dishonest people often pretend to be living abroad, looking for housing in the USA, and they write to people like me asking for my bank account number so they can “pay” me for rent on the room-share I have advertised for on the Internet. But, Mike Make Jason Smith, they do not use that information to pay people like me anything. In fact, those people (we call them “scam artists”) try to TAKE money from those accounts. Do you know what a scam is, Mike Make Jason Smith? You would never try to scam me, would you, Mike Make Jason Smith? It would be very unfortunate if you did, because, you see, we in the USA have ways of dealing with people like you, and it’s not very pleasant. Have you heard of a little nation called “Iraq”? Full of scammers.

Anyway, Mike Make Jason Smith, I know your intentions are sound, and I know you are WAY hip because you are into the performing arts and fashion design and that you are super laid back about pets and smoking. And it sounds like you’re going to be a great match for our cleaning schedule and overnight prostitute policy… so, why don’t you go ahead and get that check ready (we don’t give out banking information over the Internet, you silly goose!). I’ll give you my mailing address just as soon as you send me your bank information, your address, your phone number, your mother’s maiden name, your government identification number, your driver’s license number, your blood type, and your health insurance policy group number. Oh, and a picture would be nice, too.

Yours in domesticity,

(In case you want to send Mike Make Jason Smith an small note reminding him that it’s not nice to bait people on the Internet… here’s his email: