Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Very Confusing Scam (?)

In the process of looking for a new place to live at the end of this month, I've come across something quite perplexing that I can't figure out. I was looking on craigslist, under the Waco apts/housing for rent section, when I came across an ad that seemed too good to be true. The ad offered all utilities paid, a spacious and luxurious condo, pet friendly, downtown location, and all at a very reasonable price. In fact, I'll reprint the ad below:

Great new 1 bed room luxury apartment on the 11th floor, the condo is roughly 750 square feet.

Apartment Features -
- All UTILS included
- Window Covers, Stove, Fridge, Dryer, Dish washer, Washer, Lighting Covers
- Great Condo Location
- Security available 24 hours a day
- Hardwood floors (Pine)
- 1 parking spot included

Lease Details:
- Lease for twelve months or more
- First months rent & $170 Security deposit required
- Dogs & Cats welcome


1915 S 8th St

Well, for starters, there's no contact information listed. I emailed the posting address but haven't heard anything back yet. Also, the address 1915 S. 8th Street doesn't appear to exist. I drove by there twice today and the closest is a complex called the Nineteen Eleven condos or something (owned by my archnemesis K&S Properties, no less). Also, the address listed isn't in downtown, and there are very few if any buildings in downtown that would be able to have a condo on the 11th floor. There were at least 5 or 6 of these ads, clearly by the same person/entity, posted on the craigslist rental page for today alone.

So what's the scam? This is the part I can't figure out. Lying to people about the amenities and quality of your complex is something I can at least wrap my head around, but why go through all the trouble of posting a fake/misleading ad for a complex that doesn't seem to exist and is impossible to contact? I don't get it. Am I missing something here?

UPDATE:

Although the scammers never responded to my email (fitting since I asked for contact information), apparently a similar craigslister received this response from them.

Hello *****,

Thank you inquiring about my condo for rent. I am scheduling viewings of the unit and would be interested in showing you around the building.

Due to poor renting experiences in the past I am requesting that you confirm you have an reasonable credit score and would like to hear more about your current employment to avoid dealing with under qualified tenants.

I would suggest getting a free report from http://www.seemycreditscore.com/freecredit/ which requires less than 3 minutes and has no cost. No viewings will be allowed until I have received your score. This will be helpful for other properties you are looking at and is a standard in pre-rent screening procedures.

I am asking that you complete the report and provide me with the numerical score, please DO NOT send the report as it contains sensitive information, you can print it for your records and bring it with you to the viewing.

If you can also tell me a little bit about yourself, your interests, hobbies.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Hanna



A little googling shows that this is indeed a scam and that it's been used in California, Washington, Missouri, and a few other states. List a fantastic apartment that doesn't exist, reap the information. Let's hope karma is paying attention to people like this.

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