It was suggested that I re-post this information on this part of the site. This is a re-post from the general discussion threads.
It takes a certain kind of creep to swindle people out of their money. It takes an even bigger slime to knowingly swindle money from someone whom they know is ill. Well, that's the internet fraud case I am currently involved in. Brazen dishonesty, sadly, appears to be a plague in this fine country, on many fronts. These people have no boundaries, just pure, self-centered ugliness and greed.
(Are you feelin’ the rant start to wiggle itself outa my solar plexus yet???)
Recently, Real Estate is becoming/has become a big arena for fraud. This, according to the FBI agent I spoke with regarding my plight. He says these guys are ‘good’ and that they are excellent at covering their tracks using fraudulent cell phones and contact information. They are building a case, but the odds of getting these guys busted aren’t promising.
Go to various state’s Craigslist or any other real estate pages and you’ll see warnings in red stating “Be cautious!” “Do not wire money to someone you do not know.” “Be careful of scams and fraud.” So it was with due warning that I fell right into the slimy grasp of some creep that thought that my money was good for the taking no matter what might be going on with me. Not to mention the emotional stress that being swindled brings to the victims of such crimes. It meant nothing to this guy. I got taken…but fortunately for me…my money stayed secure.
I was just so ready to get out of Anchorage that I made a stupid mistake! Not sayin’ I’m stupid…just that I made a stooopid decision. Some of you may recall me writing about the ‘homeless’ population in Anchorage in prior posts. It was because of that dangerous and irritating situation that I started looking for an appropriate property to lease, for my three dogs and myself. I don’t really feel safe in my Anchorage community anymore and I’ve become sick of the noise and trash they create and the violence they draw. I’ve been scouring the Real Estate ads and rental ads for a number of weeks now, in the Wasilla, Knik and Big Lake area. Leasing seemed like the best way to go since I’m currently a med student and don’t figure anyone would give me a home loan with no income. So I looked into what was available in the area I wanted to settle in for a while. I just wanted a peaceful, private and green setting near water….with no brawling men and women outside my balcony and front door.
Then, about four weeks ago I was diagnosed with late stage head and neck cancer. That kinda threw a wrench into my search since I had to fly down to Seattle for treatment. However, being a rather tenacious girl, I kept checking ads, daily, and came upon a safe, cute and clean house for sale, in the Wasilla, near Anderson and King’s Lakes. Then I saw it listed as arental as well. "Smart…makes sense to go both ways;" I remember thinking, "so if it rents or sells the payments would be covered either way." The place was perfect for my needs. Secure, clean, fenced yard, trees, and near the water…… So I sent an email to the contact, letting them know I had an interest in their property and wanted to know if they were comfortable leasing the home to me while I was out of town. As it turned out...he told me he was out of town as well.
I quickly heard back from the ‘alleged owner’ of the home stating; “Thanks for your interest in my home. My home is available for rent and ready to move in, I wanted to sell my home but with the advice of my wife I decided to rent it out and we are looking for a God fearing family that could take our home as their own.” The guy even mentioned the possibility of my buying the house down the road. Well, I am far from a destroyer of houses nor are my dogs, so I checked it out. The rent was $1,100 per month, which included all utilities. The deposit requested was only $400 and dogs were welcome. (Too good to be true…I know.) “But,” I thought, “maybe this is just a wonderful blessing for me at this tough time. (Ugh…what a sap!!! :-?) Talk about the perfect come on for folks with pets wanting a decent place for a decent price…this guy has the formula DOWN!!!
I know what you might be thinking….’why in the heck would you rent a place you’ve never seen in a neighborhood you’ve never been to and from someone you’ve never met???' To tell you the truth, that’s EXACTLY what I did when I came up to Alaska. I leased my condo and paid for a month’s rent of which I was not present, prior to heading up, just to secure a place and know that when I pulled into town I’d have a landing strip and a place to lay my head. Worked out great!!! Good landlord. Great neighbors, if we omit the inebriates, and a convenient location to the University. So I wasn’t too concerned about leasing unseen land.
I looked at that Wasilla house from every angle I could, using Google earth as my transport. Checked to see if the guys name lined up with the property owner’s name and tax records and utility records, and checked to see who the broker was that listed the property for sale. I decided it was a kosher deal and proceeded to discuss terms with the alleged owner. I told him exactly what was going on with me and my health issues currently and why I was out of town. He KNEW I was sick and STILL he chose deceit. So ugly! so unfortunate.
He said he was currently in San Diego, where he was recently transferred, but that he would send me the keys as soon as I paid him the deposit money, which, as you see, was minimal. Then I could move in whenever I wanted between now and the end of September…at “my convenience.” He gave me his alleged phone number which was listed as a San Francisco area number. We exchanged about a half dozen emails and spoke on the phone a few times and then he sent me a rental application. He wanted the money to be sent using Western Union. Hmmmmmm….wasn’t THAT one of the red letter warnings I’d read on Craigslist earlier that week??? Yup!
Something just was not right in my gut, so I contacted the broker and sent an email as well as leaving a voice mail. I asked if she could confirm that the owner was, in fact, in San Diego and on a job transfer. I told her the situation and that I just wasn’t sure about the deal. She did not answer the email or voicemail quickly, and I didn’t want to ‘lose’ this place, so I filled out the application and emailed it back to this guy. He quickly accepted my references and said "the place was mine. Just wire the funds and he’d send the key to the house." I later spoke with him on the phone suggesting I send a cashier’s check overnight to the address he gave me in San Diego because I knew that Western Union charges exorbitant fees…but he said he preferred Western Union. I also suggested a private check which he rejected as well. I hemmed and hawed, deciding how much risk I was taking. The guy spoke as a foreigner...as if his communication was lacking a bit. It was difficult to decipher but I believe he was either Japanese or Korean in ancestry. I checked with Western Union to see if a transaction could be cancelled should something be amiss later on. They assured me that I could cancel prior to the funds being picked up or within about 45 minutes of completing my transmission.
I figured if I was risking more than $400.00 I might be more concerned, but I was willing to risk it because the place was just so doggone IDEAL!!! I went to the Western Union website, sent the funds to this scum bag, and within MINUTES received a return phone call from the broker for the property with whom I'd left the messages. She said she had three other calls that week regarding the SAME PROPERTY with the SAME SCENARIO!!! She said it’s a perfect scam for the area because there are so many military looking for living quarters in the area. They are out of town many times, making this scam a perfect snag for we of the gullible group. She said she got taken on a military relocation scam to the tune of $800.00. GRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. The broker also told me that she had contacted the FBI regarding this fraudulent activity.
Thank goodness for the timing…I hustled to get online and cancelled the transaction, saving myself the money I had transferred to this liar and thief. Of course he emailed and called, letting me know there was a problem with the transfer…
I thought about stringing him along for awhile… just to mess with HIM after he had so rudely dealt with me…and all for FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS???????? WTH? Sorry…I just can’t imagine the thinking process one goes through to get to that point. Do they have a friend who comes up and says…”Hey man…you wanna make some easy money? We can scam people looking for houses to rent. It’s easy…people are stupid.” I mean…how the heck does it start??? When does a person decide that they are willing to sink that low??? I wonder when and how the Bernie Madoff’s of the world decided that they were due much MORE than their fair share of the commons or that they rated special privileges? It's pretty ugly stuff.
What the heck happened to honesty? Really! Are we just a soul-less society at this point? We are overdrawn as a Nation…bankrupt as a people…and I fear…living some hideous fiscal lie that hurts and destroys people’s lives. This stuff if RAMPANT! The FBI is trying to build cases but there is so much fraud in so many arenas online that it is futile to think they can change much. So we are the ones who need to be informed and to look out for one another. The FBI has some good instructional resources, and I would absolutely report this to them again if needed, however, I don’t have grand expectations either.
I've learned that things usually run from the top down. With so much leadership having such depraved ways I suppose it’s to be expected that those further downstream catch some of the ilk that flows in the river. A shame.
Here’s the FBI internet fraud site for your education.http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/internet_fraud and the site to register complaints. http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx I think I’m gonna stop looking at Real Estate for a while.