Archives: rental house

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.”

Response to Potential Renter #2

Received a few days ago (and again this evening. Error number one, morons. Don’t send the same scam email twice.)

“Hi There, How re you doing? I hope all is well. I’m Rose Michaels, am 26 yrs old and Am originally from Barcelona, Spain . Graduate of Huelva University on the Costa de la Luz, I have a master degree in interior fashion and I work as a professional fashion designer. I moved to Phoenix , AZ two year ago for work and that’s where am living. I’m am not in the states right now, i am presently in West africa . I am currently working on contract for a company call (African Family Home Fashions) here in West Africa ( Nigeria) which the contract will be ending soon. I will be returning to states in two weeks time and I don’t want to go back to my where am living in Phoenix because my house rent has expired there. I enjoy traveling, It is very interesting to get more knowledge about the new countries, new people and traditions. It’s great to have such a possibility.

As i was searching through the web i saw the advert of your room. I would like to know maybe it’s still available becasue i’m extremely interested in it. Here are the questions i would like to know about the room before planing to move in to the following questions below:
A}I will like to know the major intersection nearest your shopping mall,Churches,bus line e.t.c
B}I will like to know the total cost for the my initial move as in first month rent and if you accept deposit.
C}I will like to know if there is any garage or parking space cos I will have my own car come over.
D}I will like to have the rent fee per month plus the utilities.
E}I will like to have the description of the room, size, and the equipments in there.
F}I will also like to know Your payment mode.
G}I will like to know if I can make an advance payment ahead my arrival that will be stand as a kind of commitment that I am truely coming over and for you to hold the room down for me. I will be very glad to have all this questions answered with out leaving a stone unturned… Now a little about myself;I am from Barcelona, Spain : that means i am Spanish and had all my education in Spain . I am 26yrs old and very much single,the only child of my only parent,my mother alive, i lost my father and my only brother years ago while i was still a kid in an auto accident.I am currently living with my mom who’s a catholic volunteer worker,but also manages her antique business. She is a volunteer at the sister’s of the eucharistic heart of jesus convent,here in Barcelona , Spain . I have been wanted to relocated to the US longtime ago even while i was a little girl growing up and my mom is in support.It’ been a long dreamed come true for me when i finnally settled in the US now. I have chosen your city for me to live when i arrive. I am easy to get along with and well mannered. I do not use people’s items without permission and consideration.
Kindly get back to me ASAP with the your monthly rent and the deposit i need to pay to enable you turn down other interested parties and keep the place for me until i arrive,because i will like to pay for the deposit before my arrival and i will like to know the total amount the rent for a whole year would be,as i am more interested in a long term lease,but still open to any form of lease you want. But i will like to pay the deposit first of all before i arrive to show my seriousness and so that you can hold the place for me until i arrive.I am single as i said and i am not attached to anyone at the moment. I do part time modeling; i call myself an amateur though,LOL,just something i take as a hobby and also i have a masters degree in interior fashion which i bagged from the Huelva University on the Costa de la Luz in Spain . I will be looking to pick up Fashion Designer jobs once i arrive in ur city, Fashion Designer is my life and i love it. I am new living all alone as i have lived with my mom alone in the past but i have no doubs in my mind about my ability to live peacefully with as i was raised to be a lover of peace. A friend just introduced me to this thing and i really wish that i am able to find the good cultured kind of Place i am looking for here. I hope i am doing it right anyways.LOL. Well,i think we will get along well because am a easy going person who respects ones privacy,like i said i dont do drugs or smoke but i drink only occasionally,i strongly believe there will be any problems living with me as i was raised by strong catholic Christain parents and have inbibed such good qualities from childhood. I will love to see your pics and those of the place as well.I’ll be so glad if you can reserve the room for me and remove all your the adverts abt the place as i’ll love to rent the place.
Get back to me ASAP
Thanks and have a good time,and you can give me a buzz cos i am presently online on my IM ( rosesmich0101 ).
Warmest Regards,

And, here’s my response:

Dear Rose,
Perhaps you might know my friend, Make Mike Jason Smith! He, too, is a fashion designer living abroad or in the states (depending on which line in the email you believe), and he too needs an apartment! I have to tell you, Rose, that I am really intrigued at the DIRECT corollary between earners-of-masters-in-fashion-design and the sudden homelessness pandemic amongst you all. You ALL seem to be searching for apartments at exactly the same time! No worries, though. I’m sure there’s room for all of you here in our fair city.

I love that you “bagged” your degree. You must be incredibly smart. And totally hip to be using a word like “bagged” when referring to a degree in a HIGHLY competitive field. I’m confused, though, Rose. Why would someone as smart as yourself want to know about the bus lines AND want to know about a parking garage on the premises? Is it because you are driving a bus? That would be WAY cool, Rose. And probably a nice way to supplement your fashion designer income! As for churches, I can’t say. I’m not a church goer, Rose. But, whatever your parents gave you to drink as a kid that immediately made you full of Christian values, I would love to try it. I’ve never tried chugging Christian values myself, but, hey. I’m not one to turn away God if he comes in a convenient 12 ounce size.

I am concerned about your pursuit of the fashion world here in our small corner of the world, Rose. Really concerned. I don’t know how they do it over there in Nigeria, but here in the Northwest, high fashion is considered not wearing socks with your Teva sandals. Also, if your fleece Harry Potter hat matches your ski boot bindings. I hate to disappoint you, Rose, because, believe me, I know what it’s like to be disappointed by something that is masquerading as something it’s not, but this place does not take kindly to fashion. And I know that, with your degree in fashion and all, you’re going to want to be inspired by your environment. But this place inspires only smelly ultimate Frisbee players and Bigfoot with its fashion sense. You’d be better served scamming looking in some other major city for housing.

I, too, strongly believe there will be any (and all) problems with you living here. So here’s what I suggest: give Make Mike Jason Smith a buzz. I’ll even give you is email! It’s: He’s looking for a place, you’re looking for a place. Why don’t you guys room together? That way, when the police come and arrest you for email baiting, they only have to make one stop.

With Warmest Apologies for Your Horrible Spelling,

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: