A Scam I Am

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Recently I had the near misfortune of almost being scammed on an apartment rental. And the sad truth is, I’m not the only one. I was enticed by the too good to be true apartment at an unbelievably low price that I could actually afford.
A fairly untrusting individual to begin with I was cautious from the start. On the off chance that it wasn’t a scam, I replied to the ad. However the more I looked into the rental, the more the facts just didn’t add up. The amount of amenities included far surpassed the price they were offering it at, and when the supposed renter returned my email the diction rose even more red flags.

“Hey,

Thank you for your interest in my apartment located in 751 Fairfield Road, V8V 3E4. The apartment is in excellent condition and it’s just like in the pictures, very clean and very well taken. Honestly from point of view I’m sure that you will rent it on spot. I’m not looking to make a business or a profit with the apartment, I’m just trying to find a good and trust person to take good care of the place. It is furnished but if you want you can use your furniture and deposit mine in the storage unit that is located near the building not far away. The rent is 650 CAD/month with everything included (heat, hydro, water, electricity, cable and internet-full package, 2 parking spots, laundry in-suite, washer and dryer). You will have full access to all the amenities of the building. Pets are allowed. I stayed in the apartment with my wife for 3 months. I’m a civil engineer and I work for a company that has an auction for a project in construction in London, United Kingdom, so my accommodation period in United Kingdom will be about 4 years. Everything in the apartment is new so there will be no need for repairs. Thank you and look forward hearing from you

Thank you and look forward hearing from you!
Chris
 PS : I attached you all the pictures that I have with the apartment (as you can see everything is in absolutely perfect condition)”
  •  First off he changed the address of the apartment in the email from what it had been in the ad to make it in a more appealing part of town. However when I looked it up on google maps none of the buildings in the area matched the window types shown in the images he had sent me. One was extremely close but the siding didn’t match.
  • from point of view I’m sure that you will rent it on spot” I feel that saying this is very presumptuous to begin with, but later in the email, he tries to make himself look like the good guy by stating he is ‘not in it for the profit’ and doing everything in his power to make this seem like the ideal apartment, that he’s really doing me a favor. This is the same kind of reciprocity that car sales men use.
  • Also maybe it’s just me, but I would assume as an Engineer he would be detail orientated, so missing words and spelling mistakes should have stuck out like a sore thumb.

At this point I was delusionally optimistic. Even though warning bells were ringing in my head, I replied to his email asking several questions and if I could see the place. This is what I received.

“Hello ,
 
Thank you for your reply. As I told you before the rent for 1 month will be 650CAD and damage deposit 650CAD ( last month) with no extra fees and you will have full access to all the amenities of the building. The price will not increase for the whole period that you will stay there. I would also like to know how many people will live in the apartment and also which rental contract do you prefer- 6 months or 1 year rental contract with option of renewal. The monthly payments can be wired to my Canadian Bank Account (TD Bank) or we can setup a payment method that is suitable for both of us.
 
The apartment is in excellent condition, you only need to receive the keys and the contract so you could check it out, and see if you like it. Since at this moment I’m in London, United Kingdom and obviously we need a safe way to complete this deal.The solution is a worldwide third party company called SimplifiedRental (www.SimplifiedRental.com) ,they will provide assistance in handling the payment and delivery of the rental package
 
We use this company to see that you are an trusting and serious person. They will provide assistance in handling the payment and delivery of the rental package  . With this procedure you will be able to check the apartment before I receive the payment. Please be aware that is NOT necessary for you to register with SimplifiedRental given that I’m a registered user for 4 years and I’ve made over 30 transactions with them so far. They are really professional and they have great services.
 
My phone number is +44 20 3286 8996 (if you are calling from Canada you may need to dial 011-44 20 3286 8996). You can call me or e-mail anytime you wish.
 
Let me know if you are interested so I can provide with all the steps of this transaction  . You need to know everything about this process before we get this started. I think is right for both of us.
 
Thank you and hope to hear from you soon!”

By now, without a doubt I knew was a scam.
  • When I looked up the phone number online it linked me to a forum on http://www.scamwarners.com/ where numerous scams all over the country popped up with nearly identical wording and even the same phone number.
  • He also says that the transaction will be dealt with through a 3rd party vendor which it is “NOT necessary for [me] to register” with because he is already a user. This implies that I will have to give him personal information before I can even see if this apartment is legit.
  • I would also like to note that he doesn’t acknowledge any of the questions I had asked.

Needless to say, I didn’t reply to his second email.

To Summarize:

1.) Most times if the rent is too good to be true it is
2.) If they keep changing key information ( like what you will be actually paying for rent or where the apartment is located) red flags should be flying
3.) If the response is too general ( not including your name or answering any of your questions ) chances are you aren’t the only one they’re emailing
4.)They keep pushing you on the sale, trying to make you feel like you’re doing them a favor, and not the other way around
5.)They ask for a credit check and/or other personal information, or a wire before you even see the place, run and run fast!
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