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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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..
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