However, this sort of thing is definitely not funny for the people who get caught by it…
This was a comment left on my post about the Will Ferrell video:
I am interested in renting your room.Here is a little info about myself. I am Annie Spencer and i am 26 years old. At present i am based in chalton England, but will be relocating to your country/State in a couple of weeks.
Consequent to this and in order to make settling in much easier and quicker i am searching for an accomodation early and i saw your addy on the site and i want to make reservations for your apartment.
I can assure you that you will not have any regrets letting out this apartment to me & having me as a room mate.I am an introvert by nature & i get along much easily with most people.I will be coming over alone,with no family or pets. I do not smoke and i drink very lightly.
My reason for moving is because i have three job offers which i am undecided which to choose & the pay is very good. I will be working as a DataBase Adminstrator on Oracle at any one i finally decide on.
Please reply me as soon as you read this email.I ll be waiting to hear from you.
Kindly contact me via email. Also if you have a yahoo messenger you could add me.My yahoo id is […] and email is […] so you could add me.My phone number is […] just incase you want to call.
Thank you once more
Annie spencer will be moving to my very specific (yet undisclosed) city/state! She saw my nonexistent for-rent ad! Sounds like it must be for one of those scam deals where they send you a big deposit on the apartment, then ask you to wire a portion of it back (because some emergency takes place), and then only after you’ve done that do you discover that their original check was fraudulent…
A quick google search gives me links to warnings about this sort of scam; here’s one from the University of Waterloo:
Landlords are contacted by telephone or e-mail by “international students or parents”, asking to rent their accommodation. They are then receiving payment in the form of money orders, cashier’s cheques, or third party cheques from a business or bank usually in an amount that is much higher than what is required. Shortly thereafter they are contacted by the student or parent and asked to wire back a portion of the money. This is usually explained as airfare costs or perhaps an accident has taken place and the student will no longer be able to attend. Some landlords have sent large amounts (up to $5,000) through wire transfers back to the suspects.
The landlord is subsequently informed by their bank that the money order or cheque is fraudulent. Unfortunately, it can take time for the bank or post office to discover that the money order or cheque is counterfeit. The victim (landlord) is usually held financially responsible as they have passed a fraudulent money order or cheque. Since the transactions are carried out by e-mail or cell phone, out of province or country, it is extremely difficult to positively identify the individual posing as the tenant.
The Off-Campus Housing Office recommends that, if you receive a request from a prospective tenant for a refund of a deposit overpayment, you contact the fraud unit of the Waterloo Regional Police Services.
My advice? I don’t like the idea of renting to people who haven’t seen the place, period. I don’t like the idea of renting to people who I haven’t met personally (although I have had a situation where I met two of the three roommates; I assumed that these two reasonable-seeming people would have a reasonable-seeming roommate). I know that sometimes people get in a bind, and that people moving here from overseas often have to rent apartments sight-unseen, but to me it just opens up the door for trouble. I would anticipate either the apartment or the neighborhood not being quite what they had envisioned (it never is from pictures alone) and moving out early. Screening, receiving the deposit check in the mail, signing the lease paperwork through the mail (or fax) all takes a lot more time, and usually I can find a local tenant in the time it would take to get someone non-local set up.
Also good to know: you call most banks and check to see that there are funds available when you receive a check from a new tenant. Doing that would keep you from losing any money in the above scam situation, even if you were to get caught up in it.