Photo Credit: Laura Leavell
Just when I thought the Nigerian scam had faded from popularity, a new and improved version popped up. This weekend I was doing a search on Craigslist and I stumbled on a post from someone looking to lease their home for a very, dare I say, overly reasonable price. As my mother used to say, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” But curiosity got the best of me and we took a drive over to the neighborhood to check the place out. The street was lovely, lots of trees and pretty lawns, and the surrounding area was peaceful, people out walking and enjoying the great outdoors. With this beautiful home nestled in this cozy neighborhood, I couldn’t image why someone would lease the home for such a low amount. Trust me, if you had seen the photos of the inside of the house you would know exactly what I mean.
The posting did not include a phone number so I emailed the person who listed the ad and I asked to see the inside of the home. Here is the email I received regarding my inquiry.
It’s my great pleasure that you are interested in our lovely 4br/2.5ba home for rent. I am Pastor XXXXXXXX owner of this home. Actually we resided in this home before and presently we have moved out due to my transfer as a matter of my profession. My Job here in Nigeria involves going to interior villages to give food and clothes to the less privileged ones in the Niger delta region and I also use this opportunity to preach the word of God bringing them to the knowledge of the gospel of Christ,We work with the a charity organization. You can learn more fromXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. My wife is also a pastor with Christ embassy church here in Nigeria as well.
We will be serving for a long term and now our home is locked up now and presently we have found a new home here which we will be staying for a very long term which might last 5 years in (West Africa) and presently our lovely home is still available for rent for ($XXXX)as first month rent including the utilities like with Air conditioning, Walk-in closet, heat laundry facilities, Living room,Breakfast nook, Refrigerator, Gas Heat /Oven, Deck, or Patio, Cable-ready, High-speed internet ,Garage parking.
While the security deposit fee($XXXXX) comes up as the first down payment and move in fee you will make to receive the keys and other necessary documents you will use in moving into our home,so after the payment the keys and other documents will be send to your full home address via FedEx.So as soon as you receive the keys and documents you will be sending us the first month rent fee..
More so,Now that we on Retreat program over here. Please I want you to note that all we will want is a very honest and caring person,so i will solicit for your absolute understanding and maintenance of this home and want you to treat it as your own,I hope that is taken. The money is not the main problem but i want you to keep it tidy always. I also want you to let me have trust in you as i have always stand on my word. Please feel free to call me on my cell phone : XXXXXXXX.
I don’t know about you, but I was hopping mad after reading this note and realizing that whoever started this scam is using Christian ministry and serving the Lord to rip people off. How awful! I called the poor woman who actually owns this house and she was so frustrated. She is in fact trying to sell the home and it’s listed with a legitimate realtor, but people have been calling like crazy to inquire about leasing it. Thankfully, the posting has been removed from Craigslist and I hope no one actually sent this person money. I also hope they didn’t complete the application that came with the email. I hate to think what the scam artist would do with someone’s personal information.
In researching these types of scams for an article I wrote for suite101.com, I found a few helpful tips that I’ll share with you.
• Never send money to a person or organization without verifying their legitimacy. No reputable company will ever call you and ask for personal information. When in doubt, do a search on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. and see if any scams have been reported.
• For a list of scams and information on how to protect yourself go to scambusters.org.
• Learn the scam “warning signs,” like calls out of the blue asking for your personal information, emails that direct you to take action “right now,” in order to avoid disaster, and links on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter with a message that sounds odd, but appears to be from a friend.
None of us can completely avoid spam and phishing schemes, but at least knowing how to recognize a scam can increase your chances of not being the victim of identity theft and internet fraud. If you have experienced a scam, please be sure to leave a comment and let us know about it so that we can be on the lookout.