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Scam e-mails on Craigslist when you're renting out a room

Scammers

I receive questions just about everyday and I respond to most of them in a timely manner between my daily activities.  In some cases, I’ve shared the questions on my blog(with permission) so that others can learn from them.

One of my popular posts is about scam e-mails and how it works.

The biggest take away is that if someone is trying to send you money without talking to them or seeing your place.  It’s more than likely a scam.

This past week, I received a question from a reader about whether their vacation rental was available.  I found the scam e-mail very intriguing as they were posing as couple looking for a place for their honeymoon.  This makes it more believable that one cannot simply visit the place before they arrive, but it’s still fishy that an actual phone conversation hasn’t taken place before any money is exchanged.

 

The e-mail is as follows:

 Hello….Thanks for your prompt reply, I have discussed this with my

Wife and we have agreed to use your place for our honeymoon.As for

The cost we are alright with it and for the date.So my Wife employers

Will be the one to responsible for all our honeymoon expenses and they

Have promised to issues and send you a bank certified check or money order

as soon as you have penned these dates down for us…This bank certified check will be send to you via ups courier service and to file the agreement form for the rental here is our full details to fill the form …

 

My name..Frank Alex

My Wife name..Mary Alex

Our address..526 Perry Mills rd

Champlain ny 12919

 

Kindly provide your full information,Full Name to be on the check…..Home or office address to receive check, Zip code together with your currently phone number {No PO BOX Pls.I want a physical address}…So the payment will be made and sent to you as soon as I get all this information for the payment ok…Waiting to hear from You Asap. Thanks and God bless you.

If you’re in this situation where you’re renting out a vacation rental, there’s a couple ways to hedge against scammers.

  • Use a site like Airbnb or VBRO to advertise.  This ensures that both renter and landlord are legitimate people because the site verifies identity by phone numbers.  Furthermore, the money is exchanged through the service and released once the service has been delivered.  The middleman holds the money until both parties are satisfied rather than money switching hands.  If there’s any dispute, the service acts as a moderator.
  • Talk to them on the phone.  This may not be the end all solution, but you can ascertain a lot from their demeanor in their voice.  Additionally, one could ask follow up questions to ensure that their store makes sense.
  • If you do receive a check from the potential roommate or renter and it’s written for an amount higher than what you stated.  Simply ask them for another check that’s for the correct amount.  A lot of times, scammers bait you by getting you to send you money by fraudulently writing a check higher than the agreed upon amount.  You deposit the phony check while you’re sending a legitimate one.  By the time you find out, the phony check bounces and you’re left feeling like a dope.

Lastly, if you do receive scam e-mails, please post them in the comments section or in my other post so that other folks can find them if they do a google search.

It’s certainly rewarding to help other from being scammed.  One commenter wrote:

Because of this website, I stop short of being SCAMED. The room that I was renting out was $425.00 they sent me a check for $3,350.90. I called the company from who the check was written out, everything on the check was correct. However it was not sent from them. Just think if I had not found this website first, I would have been taken for the sum of 2,925.90. I have kept the check and all the emails, and I will be sending them to the FBI. Thanks so much
A Very Great full Gordon.

Had this commenter not found my site, he would lost $2,929.90.  Why the odd amount, I don’t know, but nevertheless getting scammed would have sucked.

Photo Credit: Gene Hunt

{ 5 comments }
  • Josh August 21, 2013, 11:25 am

    Mike,

    Working in banking, I can assure you the scammers are everywhere. After seeing countless letters and fraudulent items, I have noticed a few commonalities. The most tell tale sign is any introduction letter written with poor grammar/ broken English. Most of these guys work overseas, so English is a second language, and this is evident in the letters they write. Another sign is checks for odd amounts, as you stated. They typically send fraudulent cashier’s checks or money orders in amounts that are low enough not to raise suspicion from bank personnel, and that fly under the radar of any audits, but still provide them a nice payday if someone falls for the scam.
    The best advice I can give to anyone to avoid being scammed is to think about normal financial operating patterns, and anything that falls outside of the norms certainly raises red flags and is a major cause for concern. In your example, the guy states his wife’s employer is paying honeymoon expenses. (What company does this??? None that I can think of!) Several red flags in your example, just thought I would point that one out.
    Again, I see all types of financial scams on a day to day basis, the ones that are very sad are aimed at the elderly, as they typically are the most vulnerable. Just my two cents! As always, thanks for the great information!

    Reply
  • Gail August 25, 2013, 5:54 pm

    Since I am the one renting out my room to vacationers as stated above, what if I ask for a photo ID, since I’m not for sure phone verification would be enough. Is direct deposit safe enough to request, done through banks and not knowing account numbers. Most of my scammers offer phone numbers but that’s it. As mentioned, incorrect grammar was my clue. almost too good to be true! Should I continue to l look for their phone numbers online to see if it’s been around! I take baby steps to make sure I don’t get scammed!

    Reply
    • Mike August 25, 2013, 6:56 pm

      Photo ID are acceptable. Most times direct deposits require a fee of $29, which may deter people away from your place. I would look into paypal or amazon payments are alternatives to sending money without relinquishing your bank acct info.

      Indeed incorrect grammar is a big tip off.

      Reply
  • Kevin at GraduatingFromDebt.com September 22, 2013, 9:57 am

    Usually I do not respond to any scammed email. Your post will be really helpful to find out scammed email and to know in which email not to reply. Thanks mate.

    Reply
  • mcohen November 28, 2014, 5:06 pm

    we received this same scam – so glad we decided to google. very weird that all the people’s names were first names. thank you!!

    Reply

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