Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fighting Back

Many of us go through our daily lives and never come into contact with the evil of this world. We see it on the news, read about it in the papers, but it doesn't happen to us so it  doesn't exist.  Having lived here in New York for more than 30 years, , you would think I would be more aware of the 'badness' around me, but I always tend to look for the good in things... that is, until I began searching for our new apartment and came face-to -face with something that previously been non-existent  in my picture-perfect world....scam artists...the monsters who prey on others in an attempt to take everything they worked hard for away from them.

Hubby and I decided that we're going to do all we can to avoid realtor's fees in this apartment search.  Everyone has to make a living, yes, but we cannot afford to pay a realtor a month's rent at this time.   That's probably going to be about $1200.  We barely have enough to move, and I'm seriously thinking of getting a loan...although I do hope I can avoid it.   So, we've been looking for Apartment for Rent signs in windows and checking on a few online services.  You can imagine my initial surprise when I found this:

Rent Per Month: $1000 (Including Utilities)
Security Deposit: $600 (Refundable)

The apartment is a 2 Bedroom and 2 Baths apartment. It has a Large living room, High Ceilings, Refrigerator, Stainless Steel Kitchen Appliances, Dining Room, Hardwood Floors, Internet and Cable, Dish Washer. There's a Heater, Dryer and Split AC Unit. There is also a Laundry Washing Machine in the Building and a Private Parking Space.

Sounds great, doesn't it?  But, I had a bad feeling about the place right from the start.  In my book, if something sounds too good to be true, then it must be too good to be true, but what the heck!!!  Sometimes gifts seem to fall from the heavens when we least expect it, so I responded to the ad.  I received an email the next day from a party claiming to be a Reverend who was currently working, with his wife,  as a missionary in Kenya.  He even included his blog address...just in case I doubted he was who he says he was.  Well, I'm not stupid.  Anybody can make up an email address and say such and such blog is theirs. 

He even added in his response that he and his wife were not interested in monetary values which was why they were letting the apartment go so low; all they wanted was for someone to live there who would take care of the place.  He even went so far as to say that he and his wife NEVER planned on moving back there, so it would be ours for as long as we wanted.  (Sure, he probably read on my application to the website that we had to move because they were selling the house so he was telling me what I wanted to hear).  By now, my radar is really up.

He included a small questionnaire.  He asked  for name, type of work, how long, pets, smoker, etc.  I noted that there were no  financial questions.  Sure, good way to lure someone in.  This guy or gal is a pro.  They know that if anything about finances is asked from the beginning,  their mark will probably back off.  That will come later after you fall for the following...of course, we will have to make arrangements for you to retrieve the key to see the apartment and sign the documents.  Still no mention of money.  I didn't allow it to get that far, but I am sure if I had, I would have eventually asked to wire some money before I got the key...and you know what that means.  SCAMMED!!!!

But, they really didn't know who they were messing with when they tried to mess with me.  Not only did they try to relieve me of my hard earned money, but also used the good name of a family who has dedicated their lives to helping others.  I thrive on fighting against injustice whether it concerns me or not, and once my dander is up, I don't back off.   I've worked hard since I was 16 years old, and now 6at 4, I still go out to work every morning,  no matter how much pain I may be in or how short of breath I may be.  And NO ONE is going to try to scam my money away and get away with it.  Here is what I did:

1.  Upon further investigation, I found the true owners of the said apartment and contacted them about the scammer.  (By the way, it's a million dollar condo.  I saw the pictures on the net, and it is simply gorgeous.  But, maybe the moron is not so smart after all.  Why go for something so out of reach?  Why not choose a more modest place?  It's more realistic.)

2.   I did further research and found the email address of the party whose name was being used and contacted the Reverend and his wife in Kenya and informed him that someone was using his and his wife's good name in a scam.  Heard back from them prolifically thanking me and assuring me that now that they know about this, they will find out what steps they need to take.

3.   Notified Craig's List of the scam.

4.  And probably most importantly,  contacted the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI and provided them with all the information including original ad and the email I received.

I can only hope that these actions save someone else the heartache of losing their money.


  1. Batman can retire now because Gotham City has a new crime fighter! Good for you for taking action, Mary. You've saved yourself and probably many others from real heartache.

  2. Good for you for not just walking away from this.

  3. pretty sad...we had a couple of cases where a handyman post for the owner of some apartments and took the money from unsuspecting (not well off) people...he even showed them the apartments he had access too, so they didn't expect a thing.
    I'm glad you fought back...continued good luck with the apartment search

  4. I am glad you were prepared for this sort of scam. You are one smart cookie. And good for you for turning this jerk into the FBI. Keep alert, but keep looking. You will find the right place!

  5. For an instant my heart lept for your good fortune and then.... :0(
    Trying to expose that scam artist was the right thing to do, although I'm sure it took a good chunk of time away from other things you needed to do.
    From me to you...thank you Mrs.Good Citizen. :0)

  6. I don't understand people...just get your own stuff instead of taking what others have worked for...

  7. Good afternoon last I'm able to visit a few of my favorite people. Goodness....what a story.....but you have turned into quite a "sluthe". Wise women don't make foolish decisions.....good for you!!