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difference between scam and legitimate roommate e-mails

So, right now I have advertisements up on my usual places because a roommate is moving out at the end of June. One go to place is Craigslist. I’ve been in the business long enough to know what’s a scam e-mail and what’s not. It wasn’t surprising that I received my first bit of e-mail from scammers, but this e-mail was different because it was well written unlike the past e-mails. But still there were a few things that made it look suspicious.

Take a look at the e-mail:

23 y/o female, full-time undergrad student, Looking for a new place to start renting from mid june. I’m a serious student and spend a lot of my time studying and exercising. I’m also very organized and clean. I’m one of those types who tidies the kitchen be sure to only get back to me with your direct phone number .

I’m Very respectful of others’ space and habits, but I definitely like roommates who pick up after themselves, at least in common areas. I don’t mind drinkers or smokers, I don’t party but I’ll have a beer occasionally and like most people, sometimes I enjoy talking and sometimes I enjoy quiet.

I don’t have a lot of furniture, just enough for my own room. I don’t mind trained dogs, I’m a good tenant, and I’ve never been late on a bill in my life. I think I’m pretty cool but most people probably say that about themselves so be sure to only get back to me with your direct phone number.

What do you notice?

Here’s what I noticed:

  1. There’s the exact same line repeated twice
  2. The person states she’s 23 y/o female(every scam e-mail claims they’re a young female)
  3. The detail is vague, the e-mail goes into lengths on how she’s a respectful roommate(no one ever write this)
  4. She states she in college, but wants to move in during the summer time, hmm.

My response:


Where are you currently going to school, right now?  Are you going to be working for the summer time?


I know the few colleges around my area so I replied inquiring about which college or where they were working. Sure enough those two questions were enough of a deterrent to stop anymore exchanges.

A legitimate e-mail looks more or less like the following:

I work for <omitted> I just moved up here for work, so I am not too familiar with the area. The house I sublet now is in <omitted> however is being put on the market, the owner would like to downsize and I don’t blame him. He spends all of his time tending to the yard and pool. There is another male that lives here as well as the owners girlfriend. I am very good about cleaning up after myself, I keep to myself as well, and I would not expect to have guests over regularly. I am a very respectful person. My work schedule is very weird in a sense that I can sometimes be working until 9:30 at night or waking up at 6 am. I also work weekends but it varies. I have never been late on rent. Are there any children living or frequenting there?

I intentionally omitted the place of work and town for privacy issues. For someone living in the area and describing their place of employment and town, it’s very apparent they’re sincerely interested in looking at the place.  In the scam e-mail, it just details traits or characteristic of a good roommate so people take the bait and reply.

photo credit: Widjaya Ivan

  • matt james July 29, 2016, 4:07 am

    Hi Mike, not sure if you covered this or not but how do you deal with groceries sharing, toilitries, shampoo, laundry detergent, soap, paper towels , q-tip, etc. All included in the rent or bill them separate?

    Q2: do you ever worry about their guest stealing something from you or housemates taking or using ur belongings when it’s off limits?

    Q3: do you think having security camera around living room is too much?

    • Mike August 2, 2016, 11:19 am

      I buy the garbage bags and dish soap. Aside from that, the only two things are toilet paper and paper towel. We take turns buying those.


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