Internet Scam Almost Bags CtWatchdog

October 5, 2012
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Internet scammers are getting more and more sophisticated.

Even a consumer advocate like me can get sucked in.

My wife and I have a condo in Florida (mortgage under water of course) and we have to rent it out to pay the bills.

We advertise also  in Europe so it wasn’t that unusual when I received an email from someone in Great Britain who saw our ad and wanted to spend a week at our place.

Gabriel Harry wanted to know whether we had a vacancy for the last week in October. He said he was a physician who would be giving a speech in the U.S. and wanted to take a week’s vacation in a warm place.

Nothing unusual there, we have had many great guests from the U.K.

When I sent him the price for the week, he agreed, and I asked to be paid by PayPal, as is the norm. He said he could not do that because the hosts of the conference would be paying his expenses while here. He asked for my address to send a certified check.

Again, all seems reasonable, nothing to be suspicious of.

Then I received the tipoff.

His “wife” “Dr. Jennifer” wrote me saying that she just got a message from her husband that the host erroneously will be sending me a check for $3,500.

“Hi, how are you doing over there today?, hope all is fine at your end… I just got a message from my husband that is financiers sent you a check in the amount of $3,500 which they include our traveling flight money and am so sorry for the amount sent to you. Please i will love to know to know if the check is in safe hand? and if i can trust you with the money,” she wrote.

This was the first email that had typos and other grammatical issues.

“Regarding the excess funds on the payment, once the check is received and you have it deposited into your bank. Here is what you are to do calculate your own price and the rest funds should be wired to the traveling agent via Western Union or Money Gram Money Transfer as soon as the check is been deposited.”

“Please let me know at once if i can trust you to have the excess fund wired to the traveling agent. I’ll be expecting your e-mail with a confirmation… Thanks and kind regards. Dr. Jennifer”

No question now, this is a more sophisticated version of the old ripoff: I will send you more money then you asked for, but please send me the difference by Western Union to Canada or England or Spain.

The way the scam works is that these people checked owners on condo for rent sites and offered to rent. The idea is that as soon as you deposit the “certified check,” which looks like any bank check, the bank will accept it and credit your account.

So you send the $1,500 difference by an untraceable and non-refundable Western Union check. The scammer picks up the Western Union check and is gone is 30 seconds. Good luck finding him or her. Then a couple of days later you get a letter from your bank telling you’re the certified check you deposited turned out to be a fake and you are responsible for putting real money back into your account, with a penalty.

During the same time I received an email from a woman who caught on pretty quickly that she was being sucked into a scam on Craig’s list.

She had been looking for a house or apartment to rent. Here follows the email exchanges: read from bottom to top.

“Just want to report a possible scam I encountered in the last 24 hours on Craig’s List.  I am passively searching out a new apartment/house to rent, and responded to an ad (too good to be true?) for a 3 bedroom house on Belmont Ave., in Enfield.  The responses and emails that follow should give you an idea of what went on…

“I was skeptical as soon as the “owner” responded and have now told him thanks but unless I can tour the house, I am not interested.

“I can’t imagine anyone would send money by Fed Ex without some security beforehand, but friends tell me you should know.

“Thanks – emails follow (by cut and paste) – please read from the bottom up….

p.s.  I did not send any phone numbers, but the response I got back saying I was accepted is here too.  Please pardon the redundant nature of the cut and paste.

Thanks for the mail, i just wanted to let you know that i and my family have decided about your application and you have been accepted as our new tenant because we found your application very satisfactory. I really appreciate your Interest and i want you to know that i have registered the keys and paper work with fedex courier company to be sent to your house address

.i am so glad having you as my new tenant. Once again i receive all information you sent to me.

i will like you to know that utilities are included in the rent and also i and my wife was willing to sale the home before but  was adviced by friends and family members not to sell the house but put it for rent so we changed our mind and placed our home out rent to a trust worthy person which i believe you are.Therefore i want you to send payment of the security deposit fee which is $800 so that I can be able to issued out the keys and other documents of our house to you.I want you to be able to send out the refundable security deposit for me to pay the shipping fee and other charges so that the keys and document can move right away and get to your address.i tried calling your cell but it couldn’t go through but i will try calling later today but i want you to know all is set so all you need do right now is to send out the Security deposit and once the payment is confirmed today,i will go straight to the Fedex office to pay then for the delivery of the following:

1) Entrance and the rooms Keys

2) Paper/Permanent house form

3) The house documetary file and address

4) Full Description of the house

5) Payment Receipt

6) Signed Lease Agreement Form you are supposed to also sign and get it sent back to me..

Get back to me asap so that we can proceed on how you will be sending the deposit.

Call me at +2348029761268 or 0112348029761268

Thanks And God Bless You

— On Wed, 9/19/12, Cheryl B

From: Cheryl B

Subject: Re: $900 / 3br – HOUSE FOR RENT (Belmont Ave, Enfield, CT)

To: “Dgh Df” <dghdf855@yahoo.com>

Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012, 9:08 AM

Thank you – I am most interested in seeing this property.  The form you sent does not allow me to input information.

I am currently renting a small apartment in Glastonbury (almost 4 years now) and am looking to have a bit more room.  I have improved my landlord’s property here with gardens along the driveway and the front of the building.  Gardening is my passion.  Tidyness?  I am exceptionally neat and tidy; almost to a fault.  I am sure my current landlord will give me a fine reference.

Before living here, I was tending to a relative’s home in Suffield while they were wintering in Florida.  So I am comfortable in the area where your home is located.  I have friends in East Windsor, family in Granby, Enfield and Northampton, MA.  Member of a church in East Windsor.

 

My current apartment has some furnishings which I would like to keep; many are from my years of raising my children in another town.  Is there a washer and dryer hookup in the home, and are these on the main floor or in the basement?

 

My name is below in the signature line

current address: Glastonbury

 

I am living on a fixed income, and work some small part-time jobs.  I live alone, but occasionally have guests.

My lifestyle is quiet, social life centers on dinner parties and lunch guests.

I am a casual runner; about 4 miles per week.

I do not smoke and drink wine with meals socially.

If I had your home, I would treat it as my own, for sure and stay indefinitely, depending on your needs and my own personal needs.

There are no pets allowed in my current location; and indeed I have none.

Obviously, I am a single woman, with two adult children; one living in Michigan and another in Northampton, MA.

Cheryl

 

There is a washer and dryer hookup in my home, and also a basement.

 

— On Wed, 9/19/12, Cheryl B

 

From: Cheryl B

Subject: Re: $900 / 3br – HOUSE FOR RENT (Belmont Ave, Enfield, CT)

To: “Dgh Df” <dghdf855@yahoo.com>

Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012, 9:08 AM

Thank you – I am most interested in seeing this property.  The form you sent does not allow me to input information.

 

I am currently renting a small apartment in Glastonbury (almost 4 years now) and am looking to have a bit more room.  I have improved my landlord’s property here with gardens along the driveway and the front of the building.  Gardening is my passion.  Tidyness?  I am exceptionally neat and tidy; almost to a fault.  I am sure my current landlord will give me a fine reference.

 

Before living here, I was tending to a relative’s home in Suffield while they were wintering in Florida.  So I am comfortable in the area where your home is located.  I have friends in East Windsor, family in Granby, Enfield and Northampton, MA.  Member of a church in East Windsor.

 

My current apartment has some furnishings which I would like to keep; many are from my years of raising my children in another town.  Is there a washer and dryer hookup in the home, and are these on the main floor or in the basement?

 

My name is below in the signature line

current address: Glastonbury

 

I am living on a fixed income, and work some small part-time jobs.  I live alone, but occasionally have guests.

My lifestyle is quiet, social life centers on dinner parties and lunch guests.

I am a casual runner; about 4 miles per week.

I do not smoke and drink wine with meals socially.

If I had your home, I would treat it as my own, for sure and stay indefinitely, depending on your needs and my own personal needs.

There are no pets allowed in my current location; and indeed I have none.

Obviously, I am a single woman, with two adult children; one living in Michigan and another in Northampton, MA.

 

On Sep 19, 2012, at 10:00 AM, Dgh Df <dghdf855@yahoo.com> wrote:

 

Thanks for your email and interest in renting my house..I am the owner of the house you are making inquiry of…Actually I resided in the house with my family but presently we are placing the house out for rent so my house is available for rent, (rent already includes utilities).More so Now,My family and i are currently in the (West Africa) for an international Christian follower’s crusade..Pls i want you to note that i spent a lot on my property that i am giving out  for rent,so i will solicit for your absolute maintenance of this house and want you to treat it as your own.It is not the money that is my main problem but i want you to keep it tidy at all time so that i will be glad to see it in a perfect condition when i come for a check up from time to time after you must have moved in.I also want you to do things that will make my family and i trust you as i always stand on my word.My wife and i bought the house when we got married but when we left the state I had a thought of selling the house so I have to look for an agent,after getting one,we got a deal but later my wife and family members advised against that.I saw senses in their advice and i accepted their advise,So I immediately contacted the agent back and requested for my keys and documents so be sent down to me here in (West Africa)which he did send it back to me.So we Later decided to have the house rent out for rent,We also would have given the same agent this job but the truth of the matter is that the agent would want to handle it professionally and the occupant may not be able to reason along with him upon their renting of my house. If you notice,you will discovered that the price we are offering is far below standard price,this is enough reason for you to know that we are not after the rental fee but the absolute care of our house.Lastly I want you to know there is a For-sale sign outside the house but not to worry the sign will be removed as soon as you move-in.The house include the utilities like Heat, A/C in wall/window, Hydro, cable, Garbage Disposal, Fireplace , Fridge, stove, Dishwasher, Dryer, Breakfast Bar, Dining Table and Sofa Set,Refrigerator,Canopied deck overlooking nature.,internet access e.t.c. because of this reason and more we need a responsible and God fearing tenant that can take very good care this house of of ours and also make sure our house is clean at all times.

This is the address of the House (65 Belmont Ave, Enfield, CT 06082).

The rent is: $900

Security Deposit: $800

3 Bedroom and 1 bath Home.

 

Pets Allowed:Dogs and Cats.

 

Available :Available Now for move in.

 

SO IF YOU ARE REALLY INTERESTED I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE RENT APPLICATION FORM BELOW.

RENT APPLICATION FORM.

FIRST NAME:__________?

MIDDLE NAME:__________?

LAST NAME:__________?

PROFESSION:__________?

PHONE:

(CELL)PHONE__________?

(WORK)PHONE__________?

(HOME)PHONE__________?

HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE LIVING IN THE HOUSE________

PRESENT ADDRESS: _____________________

CITY: _______________

STATE:______________

ZIP CODE: ____________

HOW LONG? ___________IF RENTING

WHY ARE YOU LEAVING__________?

IF THIS HOUSE IS BEING GIVEN TO YOU,

HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND STAYING? ____________?

WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN?______________?

IF YOU HAVE A PET,

NAME OF PET: _____________?

KIND OF PETS: _____________?

HABITS

DO YOU SMOKE ______________ ?

DO YOU DRINK ______________?

DO YOU WORK LATE NIGHT?____?

HOW SOON DO YOU WANT TO RECIEVE THE KEYS AND DOCUMENT____?

HOW SOON CAN YOU MAKE THE DEPOSIT PAYMENT____?

Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that i can have them in my file in case of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you…Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the keys to you,please we are giving you all this based on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words,you know that we have not seen yet and only putting everything into Gods hands,so please do not let us down in this our property and God bless you more as you do this…The house is available for rent at the moment so you are free to move in as soon as you wish to. Feel free to get back to me for more information and arrangements on how to get the keys and other necessary documents delivered to you. The house will be available for rent for a period of 5 years or more so you have a choice of deciding how long you intend staying there…

Contact number +2348029761268 OR 0112348029761268

Thanks

Martin L Coughlin.

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3 Responses to Internet Scam Almost Bags CtWatchdog

  1. Bob Trotta on October 5, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    George, George, George-

    As soon as I received that ILLITERATE message from “Dr. Jennifer”, BELLS would have gone off in MY head like happened to you! I don’t think that a Dr. who was going to fly to the US to give a speech would be married to an illiterate OR have her write to ANYONE!

    Stick to people in the USA! I’m sure that if you advertise in the right place you can find PLENTY of people HERE to rent your condo to! Craigslist is a NO-NO for anything major like this because you get crooks/scammers/crackpots etc. coming out of the woodwork as you experienced!

    • George Gombossy on October 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      Bob – I probably didn’t make it clear. The first few emails from the “Dr” had no typos or errors, they were totally fine. It is only the last one which was screwy and of course i knew then that it was a scam and did not receive their check nor did I send them money.

  2. Bob Trotta on October 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    George- it was suspicious from the very beginning because most speakers who are speaking at conferences most likely have all their accommodations/arrangements set AHEAD of time by the people hosting them. They would have made a reservation for him at a nice hotel in Fl of which there are MANY!

    I used to have a house in Lake Worth, FL. I would NEVER rent it out to anyone that I did not know UNLESS a very good friend knew someone who was looking for a place and could vouch for them. You are very brave dealing with strangers! Glad things worked out okay for you. I would be more careful/selective in a search for renters especially in this day and age! You’re liable to go down there and find your place empty of all your belongings if you’re not careful I don’t care how much of a security deposit they give you. Good luck.

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