Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Best Call Me Crazy, But I Think This Might Be a Scam...

So, yes, I'm looking for an apartment. I was responding to a thousand craigslist postings, one of them included a $1400 two bedroom on 95th street. What? A little unbelievable, but I sent my typical craigslist response:

This apartment sounds great, I'd like to know more about it.

To which the poster responded (on the extremely unlikely chance that this isn't a total con, I've left out names and addresses):


Just browsed my email address and saw your message. I hope you are still interested in viewing my apt. The apartment is still available. As I said also in my ad, the apt. is located on 70 W**t **th Street New York, NY 1**25. It is located on the 4th floor. It has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 kitchen and 1 living room. The apartment is furnished (you can see the furniture in the photos), but I can have all of it sent into storage if you want to bring your own. The apartment has an beautiful view. The neighbors are good people, and helpful if needed.

First of all I would like to tell you more about myself. I am the owner of the apartment, and want to find the right tenant. I'm 29 years old and I just got married here in Canada, and i am going to leave here for at least 4 years. I am a business woman ... I work for a company called Amway ( don't know if you have ever heard of it) and i just reached the highest rank (Diamond - a dream come true) and I earn about 11.000$/month.. So.. the apartment is free from 2 months (minimum) up to 4 years(maximum). I will come to the US only 3-4 times per year to visit my parents in Orlando FL and we can meet whenever you have an emergency and you need my help.

The rent for 1 month is $1,400 (for the whole apartment) including all utilities (water, electricity, Internet, cable, parking, air conditioning, fireplace, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator).

You can move in the apt. in the same day when you receive the keys and we sign the contract. I must tell you that I am only interested in serious tenants and that I will only close the deal face to face. I want to be sure that I have found the right person because I don't want to travel for nothing. So.. i want to close the deal face to face.

I would like to ask you some questions, such as... how long do you plan to stay in my apartment? Where do you work? Also please give me more information about yourself, anything that you might think I should know about (a picture would be nice).

Tomorrow i will ask my financial adviser to give me some piece of advice, because a week ago i traveled to New York to show my apartment to someone who seemed very interested ..But when i arrived ... He told me that he has only $1.100...and tried to negotiate the rent.. So he wasted my time and my money for nothing...

Once again thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Please tell me if this is what are you looking for and reply if you are truly interested in the apt.

Good luck,

P.S. Here are some more pictures of the apartment for you. Just click on the links below:


Have I heard of Amway?!

So...yeah. By then the original craigslist posting had been flagged and removed, but I was beginning to feel curious, anxious for the part of this exchange where the person tries to to get my money, so I responded:


Is the price really $1,400? That's a pretty outrageous bargain for an
apartment like this in New York city, but I can live with it!

But anyway, I'm 31 and I'm an attorney. I'd be interested in a year
lease with a high likelihood of renewing. I would love to see that
apartment sometime soon, right now my schedule is quite flexible.

Thanks for getting back to me,

Check out the response, it's a total jackpot!

Hi again,

Thank you for your reply. I'm very glad to hear that you are
interested in my apartment. Sorry for the delay, but i am very busy with my
job. So... As I have informed you before, the price you will pay for one month
of rent will be US $1,400. I want to receive the monthly rent to my bank
account, so I hope it will be no problem for you to wire the money to my bank
account. The apartment is ready for you, you will only need to receive the
keys and the contract.

Obviously we need a way to complete this deal, that will allow us to make
sure we receive what we are after. My financial adviser found a way for us to
complete the deal safe and fast. I am proposing something: I can come to New
York for a few days if I am sure that I have found the right person
because I
do not want to make the trip for nothing, like I said, I have a lot of work to
do here.

Here is what we can do:

- You can do a Money Gram transfer of $1,400. You will be the receiver and
someone you know and trust will be the sender.. Hope you understand..
(mother/father, brother, sister ...) You will be the receiver in the Money Gram
transfer and only you can pick up the money. I will call and check if the
transfer really exist so i can make sure that you have the money... There is a
small fee for transferring the money, but in case you agree to continue, I will
be more than happy to give you the amount paid by you back so don't worry
about this. Sorry for being so skeptical, but i had some bad experiences in the
past.. Hope you understand my situation...

- After you have done the transfer you will let me know and I will call
MoneyGram to check it. If they confirm that everything is ok, I
will come to
meet and show you the apartment. We will then discuss more about the furniture
(if you like to keep it or not) how you will send me the monthly rent and stuff
like that... After you inspect the apartment and sign the contract you can go
at a MoneyGram office and pick up the money and pay me the first month rent. I
don't want to come for nothing so I think this is fair for both of us.
I am sure that you understand that I don't want to travel so many miles
for nothing.

So let me know if this is ok for you and if you still want the apartment.
Also please think when would it be best for you to meet me at the apartment
building, let's schedule a meeting if you accept my proposal, I must know
in advance so I can take care of some things here before I come and meet you.

Waiting for your reply,

Okay, let's have a vote: What should I do next?


IBOFB said...

Well ... right from the start ...

1. Diamond is not the highest "rank" in Amway, and someone who had reached that level would know it and is unlikely to make that claim. Many folk who don't know much about Amway think it's the highest level.

2. Diamonds also do not work "for" Amway (unless they're from China) and a real Diamond would almost certainly not put it that way.

3. What the heck has their income got to do with anything?

So, it's obviously a scam. (In any case it's very easy to call Amway in Michigan and confirm the name and probably get contact details. AmwayWiki (link below) might also help.)

What you might want to do is have some fun along the lines of these guys -

419 Eater Trophy Room


*Amway Watch
*Amway Wiki

Tannerama said...

Craigslist explicitly states not to deal with apartment owners who are conveniently out of the country. I believe the exact phrasing is: "Beware any arrangement involving Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, or a landlord/owner who is out of the country or cannot meet you in person."

So, I wouldn't suggest continuing correspondence with this person. Unless, you were doing the humorous irony thing by asking what we (your readers) think you should do. in which case, I am humorously and ironically telling you not to do it.

I wouldn't want to sign into Google reader and see "Best mugging and stabbing" under Brigham's Blog.

belly said...


Anonymous said...

Run away and don't look back.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true (especially in this city), it totally, totally, totally is.

Anonymous said...

he disclosed that the money had been picked up in Montreal Canada by someone with a valid ID and that the Moneygram offices outside of the United States sometimes have ‘dishonest’ people working for the company and since they all share the same data it is simple and is all too common for them to take money from people that are entered into the system by current transfers.

bex said...

oh MAN. I think you should find out if she has a brother that lives in Nigeria (who happens to be a prince) that wants to rent me an apartment.

bex said...

(did you send her a picture of you like she requested?)

Bek said...

brig, please write back so that we can keep this correspondence going on the bloggy. please?

i found a lead on an apt for you--my kitchen floor in sf. just $900 USD. but you can't use my toilet cuz i hate sharing the bathroom with boys.

Natalie said...

Totally keep e-mailing them just to play with them and for my entertainment...just don't give them money.

Saratoga Shrimpstein III said...

Heyya! I got this exact email. So definitely a scam. But such a weird, byzantine one.

I kind of want to throw urine-filled water balloons at these people.