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By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI | Broker in Staten Island, NY

CRAIGSLIST SCAM

There is a rental scam being perpetrated on Craigslist.The perpetrator goes by the name Mary at mary_hartkins5@yahoo.com. The scammer clones (copies and pastes) somebody else' s listing for sale with their pictures, without their knowledge,permission or authority. The scammer then puts the for sale listing up for rent at a very low price under mary_hartkins5@yahoo.com. The scammer does not provide a phone #, just the above e-mail address. When a unsuspecting victim inquires they receive the following e-mail; 
 I just joined my husband whom has been on a ship building contract with nigerdock plc.Nigeria  www.nigerdock..com.I flew down to the country with our 4 year old daughter and we are going to be here till his project is concluded so we want the place occupied asap.

We initially anted to sell but we later changed our minds and wanting to rent now and looking for someone to move in asap,the place was newly renovated and is sparkling clean.

   For now we are looking at a 1 or 2 year lease or rather lets know how long you wish to stay,just get back to me so i can know your plans and intentions as we want someone whom will take absolute care of the apartment.

Mary.

The next step Mary will ask the victim to wire her a deposit, and or rent. The victim has now been scammed. Unfortunately, craigslist has been slow to remove the fraudulent posting. SO BEWARE!

Comments

By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Fri Jun 26 2009, 17:31
I am very disappointed with Craigslist.org For 2 days now I have been flagging this rental scam numerous times, sending e-mails to them at abuse@craigslist.org, but the ad remains. craigslist.org has been unresponsive.I would hope after all the recent bad press they have received they would be more pro-active to protect their users. Until they act more responsibly I will again remind everybody to be extremely cautious on craigslist.org
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Sun Jun 28 2009, 15:51
Read today's New York times Real Estate section. This scam and others are featured, and exposed on the sections front page. This is a good article to share with landlords, tenants, clients, customers, real estate students, fellow sales agents, brokers, and law enforcement.
By Inspiration Home Staging,  Mon Jun 29 2009, 01:46
It's very sad that people like that exist. Now, if Mary has an email address, can't her true identity be easily discovered, in this case, by Yahoo?

I wasn't aware of any bad Craigslist happenings until these past few months when I was scammed trying to sell a refrigerator. Fortunately, some forum members enlightened me.

It's just sad.
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Mon Jun 29 2009, 07:35
It appears craigslist has finally removed the fraudulent ad after days of flagging and e-mails. However I was never contacted by e-mail or phone, no acknowledgment, no comment, no nothing from craigslist. I think craigslist overall performance in handling this situation was poor at best. We must all continue to be vigilant to protect ourselves and the public from these on line scams.
By Ulovetherightway,  Mon Jun 29 2009, 20:44
well i was talking to this person and i thought it was a scam. they gave me information to send them money too. i knew it was to good to be true.
By Blindfish1,  Fri Jul 17 2009, 06:02
I was just about to send that money, and i searched the email address on yahoo and came up with this report. thank you so much...I had a hunch I was being scammed, and had to make sure! The guy...posing as a nigerian..gary, prompltly called me at 9 am, as he said he would. and almost in a demanding tone, told me to get him the western union transfer as quickly as possible. hmmm...that led me here. he demanded a western union when i was expecting some sort of official bank wire. more red flags...and here we are. sad but true, you have to watch out for these things. be warned!
By Ulovetherightway,  Fri Jul 24 2009, 12:23
yea i had researched it to. he didnt even call me back. i thought it would have been alot different to. my man wanted to send a money order since u can track those. but i was like let me make a search on these people.
he didnt demand anything from me at least cause i would have said something mean to him. he wasnt posing as a nigerian i believe he was american of some sort or soemthing else but deffintily was not nigerian
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Thu Jul 30 2009, 18:09
Good idea Blindfish 1, searching the e-mail address. I'm glad you caught it before they got your money. Thanks for your input.
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Mon Aug 17 2009, 13:42
The scams continue. We have been alerted that another of our listed home's photos have been copied and pasted and are showing up as a rental. The criminal is using the e-mail address of
brownholley25@yahoo.com SO BEWARE. Craigslist is full of scams, read their warnings, and remember if it does not sound right it probably is a scam.
By Lori Young,  Wed Jan 6 2010, 19:42
Mary changes the e-mail address frequently. She is now using dianereuschel@yahoo.com. Please be aware the same ad as above is being used. Watch out for anyone who wants to have you send them money before you can see the house inside as well as out. Any reputable person will have an agent or a trusted friend have the key to the house and let it be shown to prospective clients. Never send any money to anyone, on domestic or foreign soil, without having been shown a house or apartment.
By Linda S. Cefalu,  Wed Jan 6 2010, 19:49
This is still happening. I received a phone call from a person wanting to rent one of my listings. As it turned out, he called in time and it did not go any further. The sad fact is that someone he knows actually went so far as to send the money and now he is just out. I tried to get them to publish this in the primetime news, but the answer I received was that people are tired of hearing about the Craig's list scams. Too bad.

Linda
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Mon Feb 22 2010, 14:04
The scams are continuing. The scammers have become so bold they will now take the real estate agents name and create an e-mail with it. You must constantly monitor all your accounts! It seems to be most prevalent if you use craigslist.
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Sat Mar 20 2010, 10:14
At what point will craigslist begin to act in a responsible manner. The scams continue unabated. Craigslist should be ashamed of itself. They act as if they have no ability to limit the frauds perpetrated on their site. The fact is craigslist has become a facilitator of frauds. I will no longer utilize craigslist until they exhibit some corporate responsibility. SHAME ON YOU CRAIGSLIST!
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Sat Mar 20 2010, 16:25
Check out this video about the problem, it's very good. http://www.pickrent.com/videos/rentalscams/
By Liz,  Wed Jun 2 2010, 15:18
Okay so imagain my horror, when I was sent a post regarding renting a property THAT I OWN, AND AM NOT LOOKING TO RENT OUT.. My co-worker is looking for a place to rent. When she thought about Craig's List, so you looked and looked and found a great house, in a safe part of Philadelphia. The rent was for 700 dollars and that covered all the bills for water and such... Hmmm.. is everyone getting the picture I am painting? No, well there's more. So this time he clamed to work on a oil tanker.. Hmmm. an American ship without a green card or birth cert. or a work visa... Hmmm.. So she asked me to drive past the "home" and check it out as best as I could.. Wait for it.... So I said sure. I'd check it out. HMMMM.... So she wrote down the address and I'll be honest I didn't think to look at it that minute.. It wasn't until later that night did I reach in to pull out the paper and check the street name, ( before backing out of my driveway) Did I get the SHOCK of my life.... Wait for it... HMMMMM. The house she was telling me about was already being lived in. IT wasn't going to become available for rent ANYTIME SOON, TRUST ME. How, do I know this? The home that was being showed on Craig's list you see IS OWNED BY ME AND MY HUSBAND. And my niece is living in it with her two girls while attending school. So, if people are that stupid to send money without having anything in writing for that money, then why complain about the loss later? Didn't you think it was tooo good to be true? If the person asking for you to send them money without doing a credit check before to see if you have past eviections on your report, why would just taking very good care of a starnger's house with only your Word work?

So if you see the posting for a three bedroom apt. in Philadelphia, PA, let me start by saying A. the house will NEVER BE FOR RENT FOR 700 A MONTH, when my mortage is double that. B. My niece is living in it and will not move out, since I am covering all the billls for the home.......

But keep on sending the money over seas and keep checking the mail for the keys.......

I have contacted the F.B.I in my state and Craig's List and yet the post is still there... The pictures of my home are, atleast it';s not the real address.
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Sat Jun 12 2010, 11:33
Liz nothing has changed, the scams are still happening everywhere. Craigslist does not seem to care. Maybe some State Attorney General's will take up the cause. In the interim we will suffer with craigslist corporate irresponsibility.
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Sun Jun 13 2010, 08:14
Another of these scammers goes by the name of Rev Andrew Steve and gives these phone numbers: +447024060958 OR +44 7024037764 so beware he is a criminal.
By Ladyla,  Wed Jun 23 2010, 15:15
^^^^
Yet another name is Rev Patrick Morgan and his MO is their family is in london for missionary work. Luckily I researched this fishy tail before we sent him anything other than our intial email! morgan.patrick378@gmail.com is how he contacted us! STAY AWAY FROM THESE NUTJOBS!
By Neglej,  Tue Jun 29 2010, 21:46
This same scam just happened to me. This scammer goes by the name charlesmurray_a@yahoo.com. Its so creepy how incredibly identical my email response from the supposed "landlord" is versus the one(s) Joe Runfola writes about on this post. Here is what the I received via email when I inquired on a rental property of off Craigslist:

Hi,
I did get your response concerning the AD I posted on craigslist.My house is still available but presently I'm not within the States,i am on a ship building contract with nigerdock plc.Nigeria http://www.nigerdock.com.I flew down to the country with my wife and 4 year old daughter and we are going to be here till my project is concluded so we want the place occupied asap.

My House Address is:(XXX N Edinburgh Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90048).My cell phone number(01123470-423-350-39) you can reach me anytime

We initially wanted to sell but we later changed our minds and wanting to rent now and looking for someone to move in asap,the place is sparkling clean and furnished. For now we are looking at a 1 or 2 year lease or rather lets know how long you wish to stay because my house is ready for move in for $800 + security deposit of $400, my home was recently renovated sparkling clean and it's ready for occupancy asap.My home features washer dryer,refrigerator, internet cable plus parking inclusive,hardwood floor and spotless kitchen,very
close to public transport and shopping in an absolutely safe and calm neighborhood,washer dryer internet plus parking and electricity utilities are all included in rent.

Since i am handling the rental process myself i will require you to provide me with the below information's

Please note that you will only be able to drive by the house for now but not have a look at the inside until i have sent the keys and documents of the house to you and the requirement for getting the keys and documents of the house is $400,which is the security deposit. Please note that the deposit is made fully refundable should in case you finally gain entrance into the house after receiving the keys and documents and feel unsatisfied or uncomfortable with the inside,but i am giving you a benefit of doubt that you will love everything about our house.

I Await your response so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the keys across to you asap.

Yours Sincerely.

Charles Murray.

TOTAL SCAM. DONT TRUST ANYONE WHO CLAIMS THEY ARE OUT OF THE COUNTRY!! Unluckily for this creep, I happen to work in real estate finance and am able to run owner property searches on residential addresses...and the owner is NOT Charles Murray. Buyer Beware and be careful out there in Craigslist Land!
By Onlymarc@aol.com,  Tue Jul 6 2010, 14:22
Almost got us. Thanks to Google for getting me to this website.
By Speedygonzohoff@aim.com,  Tue Jul 6 2010, 14:23
Almost got us. Thanks to Google for getting me to this website.
By Pepper,  Sat Jul 10 2010, 18:24
ILet the buyer beware. just had the same experience. If you think something is too good to be true, it usually is. I was really suspicious because I had seen the house for sale on another site while I was looking at possible purchases. And, I have to say it was a little heartbreaking because I'm in an emotional situation and this plac e would have been perfect for me to move with my dog. You do have to be careful but I think it's disgusting that people like this are out there. The email response I got is below. Fortunately, I did the search and found this site. A few odd things were that the rents were different ($750 on the ad, $800 below), there was no street number, among other things that struck me as funny.

Hi,
I did get your response concerning the AD I posted on craigslist.My house is still available but presently I'm not within the States,i am on a ship building contract with nigerdock plc.Nigeria http://www.nigerdock.com.I flew down to the country with my wife and 4 year old daughter and we are going to be here till my project is concluded so we want the place occupied asap.

My Apartment Address is:( Monastery Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19128) My cell phone number(01123470-423-350-39) you can reach me anytime

We initially wanted to sell but we later changed our minds and wanting to rent now and looking for someone to move in asap,the place is sparkling clean and furnished. For now we are looking at a 1 or 2 year lease or rather lets know how long you wish to stay because my house is ready for move in for $800 + security deposit of $400, my home was recently renovated sparkling clean and it's ready for occupancy asap.My home features washer dryer,refrigerator, internet cable plus parking inclusive,hardwood floor and spotless kitchen,very close to public transport and shopping in an absolutely safe and calm neighborhood,washer dryer internet plus parking and electricity utilities are all included in rent.

Since i am handling the rental process myself i will require you to provide me with the below information's

TENANT RENT APPLICATION
FIRST NAME: __________________
MIDDLE NAME: __________________
LAST NAME: __________________
PROFESSION: ________________
PHONE (____) __________ (CELL)
PHONE (____) __________ (WORK)
PHONE (____) __________ (HOME)
MARITAL STATUS: _________
KIDS _____ (YES/NO), HOW MANY ________
Home ADDRESS: ___________________________
CITY: _______________
STATE: ______________
ZIP CODE: ____________
HOW LONG? ___________IF RENTING
WHY ARE YOU LEAVING? _______________________________________________________________________
CURRENT RENT: _______
IF THIS House IS BEING GIVEN TO YOU,
HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND STAYING? ____________
WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN? ______________
HOW SOON CAN YOU HAVE THE DEPOSIT PAYMENT SENT TO ME___________________________
HOW SOON DO YOU WANT TO RECEIVE THE KEYS AND DOCUMENTS OF THE HOUSE___________________________

Please note that you will only be able to drive by the house for now but not have a look at the inside until i have sent the keys and documents of the house to you and the requirement for getting the keys and documents of the house is $400,which is the security deposit. Please note that the deposit is made fully refundable should in case you finally gain entrance into the house after receiving the keys and documents and feel unsatisfied or uncomfortable with the inside,but i am giving you a benefit of doubt that you will love everything about our house.

I Await your response so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the keys across to you asap.

Yours Sincerely.

Charles Murray.
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Mon Jul 19 2010, 08:21
MORE CRAIGSLIST SCAMS FROM TODAY'S (JULY 19, 2010) NY POST BY RICH CALDER;
What seemed like a dream deal of spending the summer living in one of New York's hottest neighborhoods has become a nightmare for more than a dozen out-of-towners.
Many of the victims - college students and young professionals - told the Post they were each duped out of thousands of dollars by two Brooklyn men posing as lease holders of a massive loft within a new luxury apartment complex at 175 Powers St. in Williamsburg.
The alleged scammers, Desmond Eaddy and Ronnie Barron, used Craigslist and other ads to reel in the unsuspecting victims, including eight from Ireland, and collected at least $14,000.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/burg_scam_turns_loft_dream_to_nightmare_LsvjfFcDQsDdwpZzbV0m8J#ixzz0u8r5VOiC
By JOSEPH RUNFOLA JR, BROKER, GRI,  Fri Sep 17 2010, 09:35
The Ol' Fake Rental Scam It's a tale as old as time (or as old as Craigslist): The NY Post reports, "A bogus Manhattan real-estate agent was busted after scamming three potential renters out of thousands of dollars in deposits." Vincent Armas allegedly found people interested in renting apartments at 416 E. 13th St., 343 Lexington Ave. and 117 E. 102nd St. "One victim handed over nearly $1,500 in deposits to Armas, who supposedly made an arrangement to leave the keys with a friend, cops said. The victim picked up the keys, but they didn't open the door to the East 13th Street apartment -- and, in fact, other people were living there." Armas was charged with grand larceny last week.
By Amarie,  Thu Oct 14 2010, 17:40
This so-called "Reverend" Andrew Steve is on the loose again in Philadelphia! He is trying to rent a condo on Catharine St. for $400 a month. Do not believe him... Some "man of the church"

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