Peon and J are searching for housing in the Bay Area. The good ones are taken within hours, so we don't have a chance on those. So far, Peon has seen a few that seemed odd--as in, someone is attempting to part me from several thousand dollars of my money without providing me housing--but today I got my first "classic" scam.
Now some people may think I am naive and, in some ways, I am. But even I can see all of the red flags here:
the "owner" lives and works in New York
the "owner" invites me to look at the neighborhood, the outside of the house and the yard
the "owner" wants our personal information (but oddly, not our Social Security numbers)
the "owner" expects that, should I like the house, I will send him $2000 and expect the keys by return mail
I am suspicious at this point, but then the "owner" proves that he is a moron, that our schools suck at teaching critical thinking skills. One of the things I always do in looking at a potential rental is check the property out on Trulia and Zillow. I do this because I want to make sure that the property is not about to go into foreclosure, and that it isn't for sale. I don't want to move twice in a few months. In fact, I've found two or three houses that were likely about to be abandoned to the bank. We passed on them, but I did find that the soon-to-be-former owners were charging fairly high rents, taking as much money as possible on the way out.
Anyway, there the property was, on Trulia, at a slightly different address. But I'm good at research, and was able to find the correct location. It was for rent, but for $450 more a month in rent, and with a local landlord. I both reported the listing to Craigslist and called the landlord to suggest that he put a notice at the property warning prospective tenants of the scam. Then I sent a return email to the scammer. I was not a nice lady.