Monday, April 29, 2013

Scam: Fake Housing Ad on Craigslist

While looking for a new place to live, I found this ad:

- $450 1 bedroom, 1 bath, Quiet Side Street. (honolulu)



1 bedroom, 1 bath, Quiet Side Street. Nice neighborhood. . Nice walking area. Convenient access to anywhere. Newer kitchen, modern bath. Nice yard. White Expanded Colonial Cape with Black Shutters and Architectural shingled Roof with attached garage. a single family home , brick front walk. Lots of windows, bright, open design, in excellent condition. Main bedroom large enough for queen bedroom set with cathedral ceiling, but too small for king bed. (17'x13+'). Excellent room bedroom (12'+x10') with long walkin closet and optional use of washer/dryer hookups. Open kitchen areas all hardwood floors (18+'x14+') with lots of windows. Tiled bathroom with shower. Total square footage estimated to be 800+- square feet. If you are looking for a nice quiet place to live, this apartment would appeal to you. Nice residential neighborhood side street, Nice walking/biking area. Clean inside and out. Attached garage for shared common storage space . Off-street parking for up to (2) cars. pets ok. Utilities extra, but economically as each room has thermostat control. Depending on your usage,the house are quiet working professionals staying around. Available to show with 24 hours notice. Available to occupy April 1st. $450/month plus utilities.

  • Location: honolulu
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
This offer seemed to be too good to be true! A nice location and the rent is dirt-cheap. I sent a reply and received this response:
The house is located at
 (address deleted for privacy of tenants)


Price: $450
Status: For Rent
1 Bedrooms
1 Bathrooms
1,375 sqft
Single-Family Home
Rent: $450
Deposit: $600
Air Conditioning
Dishwasher
And it cost $450 per month.
Let me know if you are interested so that i can forward you the pictures of the house
and the interiors and you can equally go over to the location to check if it is to
your taste.
I await your response
John Padilla
The reply was sent from an anonymous email address, provided through the Craigslist system. I assume that Craigslist provides the email-masking in order to prevent people from being unwillingly added to spam lists. However, it seemed rather odd that a prospective landlord wouldn't provide me with a direct email address in order to contact them. I sent a follow-up email, requesting a physical address, with the explanation that I'd like to come over and discuss the lease agreement. I received this response:
Attached to this mail are the pictures to the house, i am currently out of town now with my daughter here in Colorado, I am a man with disability. I can't walk as i am on a wheel chair. I am the landlord of my house. So you can go over to the house and look up the surroundings and and the house equally through the window and get back to me if you still interested in renting the house. Call me on (602) 832-8763

John Padilla
Look through the window? It was also a giant red flag that the "landlord" is supposedly in Colorado, while using an Arizona phone number. A Google search of the number found nothing. A friend who sent an email in reply to an ad posted a couple of weeks ago for this same property received this reply

The house is located at
 (address deleted for privacy of tenants)

Price: $450
Status: For Rent
1 Bedrooms
1 Bathrooms
1,375 sqft
Single-Family Home
Zip:96817
Rent: $450
Deposit: $450
Air Conditioning
Dishwasher
And it cost $450 per month.

Let me know if you are interested so that i can forward you the pictures of the house and the interiors and you can equally go over to the location to check if it is to your taste.

I await your response

Pam
When he asked for a contact telephone number, he got this reply
It still avaialable here is my number call me anytime (720) 257-9159
The ad he replied to was flagged and removed by Craigslist shortly after this exchange. But, it does show that this scam has been operating for awhile. The change of names and phone numbers also hints that past victims have been trying to contact the scammer in an effort to recover thier lost money.


It didn't take long to realize that the ad was a scam. No respectable landlord is going to have people scouting the property and having to resort to peeking through a window at a house they hope to rent.This is why a legitimate property owner hires a rental agent, whose job it is to show people the inside of a house.

A quick search informed me that the house is actually being managed by Property Profiles, Inc and the contact person is Joan Kashimoto, not "Jose Padilla" or "Pam". Rather than the $450 per month rent mentioned in the ad, the actual monthly rent is $1700 per month, which is not unreasonable for a house this size and in this neighborhood. The Craigslist ad is definitely a scam.

But, that's not the only fake ad I've found for this property. Another suspicious ad can be found here, which incorrectly states that the asking rent is $650 per month, less than half of what the real rent is supposed to be.

I contacted Joan Kashimoto and informed her of the fake ad. I was also informed that the house has been rented-out. I feel badly for the unfortunate renters who may find people peeking through their windows and walking-around the property, thinking that they're scouting-out their future residence.

I was also informed that housing scammers are quite active on Craigslist, offering houses and apartments for rent at rates much lower than could really be offered on the market, duping people into signing fake leases and swindling people out of their money. The scams are quite well organized, with scammers sometimes even going to the properties, changing the locks and giving their victims the keys. When the real owners show-up and find the places occupied, the victims are left with no option but to vacate, losing their money (rent and deposit) in the process, as well as expenses incurred in moving into and out of the residence in a short period of time, rendering them homeless until they can find a new place to live, made even more difficult by the loss of the money they already gave to the scammers.

I really hate scammers, especially when they victimize people who just want to find a place to live.

It is my hope that by posting this blog entry, I can prevent anyone from being a victim of this scumbag.
.

Duane Browning
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