For the past 2 weeks I’ve been actively looking for a place to live in the Triangle area. Somehwhere that was nice, reasonably priced and close to any of the number of places it looked like I may be establishing HPC in the Raleigh / Cary / Apex areas. I’d been checking out all the major apartment listing sites including Craigslist to find an apartment that would work. Well, last week I happened to be looking at Craigslist and a new ad popped up for what appeared to be a great property. It was a new townhouse that was going for about $150-300 cheaper than all the other properties of similar size, quality, and area. Obviously I got excited and quickly shot off an email to the poster stating that I was interested. Not too long after a woman writes back in broken English answering my questions about lease deposit and other fees but ignoring my questions about the area and the square fooage. She also stated she was out of the country on a missionary trip and that I should contact her husband (using a Nigerian number). I wrote her back and asked when I could take a look and she said that because she and her husband were in Nigeria they were leasing the property at a discounted rate and wanted to find someone who’d take good care of there home. She said they had left in such a rush that they weren’t able to find an agent to take care of the rental. Hmmm….I thought, this was getting more than a little suspicious. I thought I’d play along though so I offered to give her references so she could know I could be ‘trusted.’ She emailed back stating that she didn’t need any of that, that she believed me and that we’d need to find some way to get the deposit and first months rent to her and then she could mail the keys. By this point in time I knew where this was going. So I googled the address of the property and sure enough the house showed up on Trulia for sale. The pictures and the description had been lifted EXACTLY from the ad. Armed with this info, I emailed ‘her’ back again with the following:
You’re not going to believe this! I just googled the property and it came back on some real estate site for sale. It looks like someone is trying to sell your house while you’re gone. They must be posing as the real owners while you were away. I can’t believe they’d take advantage of such a nice Christian couple. I’ve already contacted Craigslist to make sure they know and have turned the real estate agent’s name in to the local police. I also gave them your contact information and they said they’ll be in touch with you since misrepresentation about ownership of a property is a Federal offense and a cyber crime that is recognized around the world. I’d really like to move in to this house and there’s no way I’m going to let those scam artists try to sell it.
Needless to say, they never contacted me back even when I offered to make my payment. Maybe it’s because I also mentioned that the internet crimes division of the FBI needed their address in Nigeria to send them some paperwork.