Sunday, June 07, 2009

It's a dangerous world: we nearly get scammed by a fake apartment ad on Paris CraigsList

The last time I stayed in Paris for a few weeks, in 2005 - the year I started this blog and made several resolutions, including "learn Yiddish" - I found an apartment near the library where the Yiddish classes were to take place. The lady met me there with croissants and it was just lovely, all went according to plan.

So when Hannah and her fiancee and I needed an apartment this summer (I'm going back to the Medem Bibliotheque, this time to take the advanced Yiddish course, and they're coming to have fun), I naturally went back to Craigs List.

Well, times have changed. When I responded to a man with an apartment very near the library, he wanted me to wire him the money (plus security deposit), and email him my PASSPORT NUMBER! (see his email, below) I wrote him back saying this is not how we do business on the internet. He sent me another odd email.

I was flummoxed so I sent them both to Hannah.

She found this site: Scammers on CraigsList Paris. I fear the author's quest, to identify and "out" scammers, is hopeless, because after all they could choose new names and new free email accounts for each encounter. However, it's good that she's trying!

An allied site gives ideas for being a cautious renter: Inside Paris: avoid apartment rental scams.

Naturally this is happening in other cities. Some of the scammers are - surprise - in Nigeria. And evidently some of the scammers are on the other side, renting apartments with fake money in some way.

I've been really sad about this. There are real people on both sides of the proposed transactions but they are swamped with fakes.

Somebody told me recently that 95% of email traffic is spam.

What a world.

In case you're in the same boat, below are the odd emails I received from "Thomas Lauren" at Otherwise, read no further.
Normally i am supposed to make a fewe back ground check but nevertheless i know you would be a responsible person to have the place.However, I m presently in the United Kingdom on business trip and i would appreciate if you can make the payment Via Western Union Money transfer.Once i recieve the details of the transfer i would require your full name and address to mail out keys Via registered express mail in which i would provide you a DHL tracking number for your references.You should let me know the date you would like to move in and that will be the starting date to your rental.I am a very honest and God Fearing man and i hope to rent my house to the same person.I attend a catholic church and i am one of the elders in the church and i act according to God principles with good authoritative human perspective views of mankind..Kindly get back to me if we should proceed with the next line of information.You should expect the lease in the next email and kindly provide me with the following details for tne preparation of the contract

Your Full Name and Address
Passport Id Number
Date of Birth
Date of moving in and Date of Moving out
Address for the keys to be posted to you
Contact Phone Number
Thanks And God Bless
Goodmorning Jane,
Thanks for your mail and i wonder why you are not willing to give out your information for the preparation of the contract,at least i gave you one of my old tenant information to ask better about me and the apartment to be sure.
I am in London,and since you are not feeling comfortable sending your information to prepare the contract then i will like to let you know that am the right landlord for you,so i will be willing to post the keys of the apartment and the contract,photocopy of the apartment documents, to your address in USA,by Fedex express serive or Dhl service for you to trust and believe me,so think if you get this info,you would be able to futher with me? But before i can do this,i need to be sure if you are also serious about this rent and if you have the money with you atleast the rent and the deposit,so what i will suggest nowyou will go to Money Gram office,to make a of 700euro using any of your trusted friend as the receiver of the payment,meaning you will transfer the 700euro to your friend's name as the receiver of the payment at Money Gram office when you are given the form to fill,and address in North Carolina will be the receiver's address.or better still you can use your name as the sender of the money and the receiver of the money just for me to be sure the payment is for the rent,and as soon as this is done,you will get back to me with the receipt of the payment at Money Gram office to confirm if the payment is valid or not or better still you can write out from the receipt the sender's name and the mtcn number with this 2 information i can confirm the payment..
I think you understand what i mean? I just want to be sure if you have the money ready with you at hand..
Best Regards

Technorati Tags: ,


At 12:56 PM, Blogger Dugdale said...

I created a rental scam detection tool if anyone is interest in seeing if they are getting scammed.

Dave Dugdale

At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Paris Housing Scamwatch said...

Thank you for visiting Paris Housing Scamwatch. I just want to correct the erroneous assumption that our is "quest ito identify and out scammers." More than anyone, we know how futile such an undertaking would be. Rather, our quest is to raise awareness about internet scams while reaching the largest readership possible. Posting scammer names/emails has proven to be one effective way to do this. Why? You'd be amazed at the number of people who arrive at the site after "googling" the name of one of these "scamlords". So we post these names as they are brought to our attention. If you read some of the hundreds of comments posted you'll see that the site has saved countless people from becoming victims. I know, it's hard to believe anyone would even consider sending money to a total stranger and expect to receive keys for an apartment they've never seen in return. But there are many, many people who seem to lose their criticial thinking skills when it comes to the internet. We're trying to educate them about these housing scams so they'll be able to recognize them instantly. Hopeless? I don't think so.
Good luck in your own appartement search. -PHSW

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Leon said...

Anyone who asks for money upfront, send money by Western Union, are red flags that indicate a scammer. There are about 12 red flag indicators. There is a book out called 'Scammers Among Us Beware' that can be viewed on, purchased there and on, or This self-help guide will help you to keep out of the scammers clutches.Check it out. I recommend it highly.

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Craig said...

I bought three rare German books online from a rare book dealer in Germany. The dealer mailed them to my dad's address in the U.S. and I picked them up from him a few months later the next time I visited home, as I live in Asia. The dealer wanted payment in euros. Wasn't able to make payment by wire transfer or money order from my bank in the U.S. or from Western Union or from the post office, but had no trouble at all wiring the funds from my bank in Manila. The book dealer wouldn't accept payment until after I had seen the books and was happy with them.

At 2:21 AM, Blogger Miss. Marie said...

When I post a add on Craigslist this is what i state at the bottom of the page:





"this has helped get rid of most all the scammer emails.They are very easy to detect and are way to willing to send their money"

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Leon said...

Well I am glad that this type of ad works for you, just remember that any fee upfront is an indication of a scam. Also any time a scammer tries to buy something they will try and pay you more than you are asking and will want you to send the difference by Western Union. Check the book 'Scammers Among Us Beware' on, it will be of great help to you and yours.Thank you.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Find me on Google+