Friday, September 7, 2007

The Almost Scam

A couple of weeks ago during my frantic search to find housing in Paris I replied to an innocent enough looking post on (actual post has been removed because I flagged it). There wasn't much detail in the post and there were no pictures included but I thought "what the hey, there's no harm in responding". A few weeks later I get the following message in my inbox:

Hello [L'etrangere Americane],

Thanks for the great response. I do appreciate your interest. The place it is still available and it is available for long time rent. All utilities are inlcuded and pets are allowed. I would have loved to meet you and visit the flat but I am presently not in Paris. It is available now and you can start as soon as possible. Also, you can rent as long as you can as I do not intend to live in the flat again. It is 670 euros monthly with an extra fee of 80 euros for the utilities which comes to a total of 750 euros. I used to reside in the house with my family before we had packed due to my transfer from my working place to the U.K and presently my house is still available for rent including all the utilities. Moreso Now, I also travel here and there on business. Pls i want you to note that, i am a kind and honest man and also i spent a lot on my property that i want to give you for rent, so i want to be sure if you will be able to take care of the flat as I do not any damages in the flat. I have given the price for the flat as I believe this way, I am helping someone in need for shelter and also the person will be able to take care of the flat and make it clean always I will like to know if you can give me an assurance that you will take good care of the house for me. Also, I will like you to fill the below form.

1)Your Full Name
2)Your Full Address & Phone Number
3)How old are you?
4)Are you married?
5)How many people will be living in the house?
6)Do you have a pet?
7)Do you have a car?
9)What is your religion?
10) Do you smoke?
11) How many months do you want to rent the house for?

[Insert long highly detailed description of the apartment, decor, amenities, and neighborhood in perfect English here]

Will wait for your response.

[Scam Artist]

My initial reaction was that I had just hit pay dirt and that I was going to be living it up "MTV Cribs" style in Paris. Then little mini red flags started to go off in my mind such as "why is such an amazing apartment being rented for so little" and "why does he need to know my religion to rent me an apartment", "why is the first section of the email fraught with grammatical mistakes but there is nary an error in the second half"?.

Because I couldn't get those red flags out of my mind I decided to do a little super sleuthing courtesy of Google (love Google). Low and behold I found this little gem. Turns that Scam Artist copied the entire description and pictures from this apartment posting and tried to pass it off as his own little did he know who he was dealing with.


nicole said...

Wow. So glad you figured it out before you gave any info. But that was a tricky one. Oh and congrats on the arrete and its arrival finally.

Anonymous said...

congrats on your move. i'm doing research for friends thinking about leaving the states for paris and am going to share your blog with them. not sure if you still have family in the states, but for whatever it's worth, they told me about a new video/face-to-face communication tool they plan to use to keep in touch with us poor 'ole folk back here. i believe it's called anyway, good luck and keep up the enjoyable blog!

Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

That's good that you listened to the red flags!!

I went through the same thing in Rome a "girl" befriended me and wrote many letters to me, then asked me to sign a contract and pay rent through "Western Union" when I refused and asked for identifications and bank information "she" insisted on Western Union and I searched the address and found the owner wasn't renting it!

Scams, I tell you...

dw said...

Oh now that's just not nice. Always good to listen to that little voice inside your head telling you something's amiss. If you do find a place to live it up MTV Cribs-style (btw: LOVE that description) let me know!

Amy said...

When it seems too good to be true, it usually is!

Anonymous said...

I'm so impressed with your detective work. I probably would have just haplessly believed it! Good luck on finding something real!

LivInCA said...

That's great that you did some research! In reading, I noticed some grammatical errors which tipped me off, but glad that you acted upon them. Isn't google great??!!

Mills said...

Peeing my pants at the thought of visiting le etrangere in an mtv crib house...then low and behold, we are arrested for squating in some french aristocrats dwelling unbeknownst to him! LOL....

sometimes your anal retentiveness pays off...stupid me would have prolly given him my bank account and been assed out in Paris on a street corner! bisou bisou

Mills said...

PS - your ads have gone from passport info to, dirty webcam thinks thou has dropped scrupples to make a euro! lol!

Zannah said...

Hey, found your blog through Sam de Bretagne's. I'm about to start my second year as an assistant in the Creteil academie - last year was in Epinay (the ghetto your family would be worried about) and this year actually in Creteil. If you have any questions or if there's anything I can help you with (I understand the pain of apartment-hunting), let me know - we over-25-year-olds need to stick together. Good luck in your last few days of preparation!

L'Étrangère Americaine said...

Zannah thanks for stopping by I'm sure I'll have a ton of questions soon enough.