Scam Alert!

I have a rental listing in Cheverly and just about immediately, we got an bite from Craig’s List. The email address was a account.

The prospective tenant , from England, sounded great and was really interested. Ready to move in by the end of the month. After several emails back and forth, he said that he wanted to reserve the property and would send the money right away — but he would send far more than was necessary and would we send the remainder to his decorator, who would handle the move in. He would fill out the application and lease as soon as he got to the States next week.

I’m sure that his next email to me — had I been willing to go along with this scenario — would have been to say, “why don’t you give me your bank account number and I’ll wire the funds to you”. Typical Nigerian email scam. So I sent my final email to him with a tracer on it and lo-and-behold, the email was opened in Nigeria!

The way to circumvent these scams? Don’t change what’s smart just because you think you have a “live one”. I told him that we would be unable to reserve the property for him until we received a fully completed application and certified funds, overnighted to my office. That once we ran a credit check and approved the application, we would reserve the property, but not until then.

If you own rental properties, it’s a good idea to put a good screening process in place and then follow it. Always. Not only will it help protect you from scams, it’ll help keep you out of Fair Housing violations as well!

I’d be shocked if we ever hear from him again.

Update: It has now been just about a week since I sent the final email and, no surprise, we’ve never heard from him again!

© 2006 Susan Pruden.

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