Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

People Really Fall for International Scams

One of the scams I’ve heard a lot about lately is the “I ran out of money and I’m stuck in Europe”.  This is the scam that occurs once someone has stolen an Email or Facebook account. A message is broadcast to friends and family with sad news and a plea for help. An elaborate story is created which ends with a request to send a money wire to another country. It can happen to anyone and enough people fall for it that it continues to be popular.

A family member was actually the target of another international wire fraud scheme. This one goes after people looking for low cost comfortable shelter for their family.  The scammer finds a house and then collects a deposit from multiple renters.  Thanks to real estate services like, and even Google Street View it’s not hard to post a photo of a house while claiming to own it

This home was posted on Craig’s list for rent. When we contacted the real owners they were very surprised.

While checking Craig's List for apartments in our home town this listing seemed almost too good to be true. Luckily, we’re a small town and even though this particular family member isn’t the most internet savvy person he still knew a scam when he saw it.

Here’s the letter he received when he inquired about checking out the new listing.

Thanks for your interest and inquiries about my house,Yes the house is still available for rent and we are looking for a responsible person/family to occupy and maintain the house.Myself and wife just traveled to I am one of the coordinator of United State Missionary Organization and decided to rent/lease our property because i have been posted to United Kingdom, by the United State Christian Organization for (Worldwide Missionary Outreach).Presently  We are now in United Kingdom, but We wanted to sell it before and later changed our mind to rent it out for investment purposes since we might still come back some time 5years or more to come.So we have ordered them to stop all advertisement and remove it from the market about the home for sale and that will be effective asap. So i wouldn't want that to bother you at all..We could not find an honest agent to hand over the place to before leaving so i and my family decided to post the advert online. We will be away for 5 to 6 years or more that is why I have made up my mind to put up my house for rent to whom ever that will take good care of it.
Property Type: Single Family Home
3Bed, 3 Bath | 2,348 Sq Ft on 0.16 Acres (6,969 Sq Ft Lot )
Air Conditioning
Ceiling Fans
Double Oven
Garbage Disposal
Pets Allowed
Washer / Dryer
Rent: $900 including utilities
Security deposit:$1300
FIRST NAME: __________________
MIDDLE NAME: __________________
LAST NAME: __________________
PROFESSION: ________________
CELL PHONE:______________________
HOME PHONE:______________________
DO YOU HAVE A PET:____________________________
DO YOU HAVE A CAR____________________________
PRESENT ADDRESS: ___________________________
PREVIOUS ADDRESS: ___________________________
I CERTIFY that answers given herein are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this application for tenant screening as may be necessary in arriving at a tenant decision. I understand that the landlord may terminate any rental agreement entered into for any misrepresentation made above.
Thanks and Remain Blessed

The scammers even found out who owned the house and created a Yahoo Email account using their name. We played along and asked if he could come see the house.  He received the following reply.  As we’re learned over the years most scams come with their share of spelling errors.

well thank you for the response to my email but i must let you know this as i told you in the last email that am not in the state now and the keys and the document to the house is with me here in uk but i can send you the keys and the document if you can let me trust you and you are not going to disapoint me because i dont want to trust the agent i gave the house to let it out again.due to what has happened between me and him because i gave him the house for just 800 and he was calling it $1600 and that was why i decided to let the house out myself .but just let me know if you are still intrested and i will know what to do then

The scammer continued to reply to Emails but ultimately wanted a deposit wired to them before the house could be viewed.  We were the only one to report this recent scam but local Police Chief Thomas Rush was quick to remind me of a similar rental scam which occurred last year. In that case, over five different people showed up at a local house claiming they were new occupants.

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Blogger dowtchaboy said...

I had a plea pop up in gmail chat - appeared to come from someone in my gmail address book obviously so I was initially not suspicious. The person chatted to me and gave me a story about being mugged and needing to get home. I noticed after a while that they never quite stated where "home" was nor knew where I was so I phoned the number I had on record for them (it was someone I had given stuff to via FreeCycle)- and surprise surprise the family were at home, not mugged and penniless in London! They said they had had a virus and lots of strange stuff happen since.

4:41 AM  
Anonymous Trauringe said...

unbelievable! thanks for sharing! what a story...

7:09 AM  

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