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How I almost fell for rent scam?

Tags: rent scam

Recently, my roommate, had his job contract terminated. He found a new job in another city which meant I had to hunt for a new roommate. So I quickly posted an ad on Sulekha1, a popular website in USA among Indians.

A month ago I had stumbled upon an old friend in a private birthday bash. He was raving about a rent scam. More than thousands of dollars were siphoned off his account. Barring some sympathy, I paid little heed to his story. Little did I know I would almost fell for a similar scam.

You have a text message!

Red Flag! If a person doesn't pick your phone, most probably he is not genuine.

I sent him the photos of the apartment & its details.

Then he begins to babble about his professonal & personal life.

I am rarely interested in someone’s personal belief or food habits unless it infringes in my personal space. But I patiently listened to his rambling. Later we talked about payment.

Red Flag! If a person makes the process of payment complicated like involving a third person, be extra careful.

I tried to match the passport with the sample published by the National Document Fraud Unit (NDFU)2 on their website3. At a cursorty glance, font does looks weird. Since I am not a forensic expert, I gave him the benefit of doubt.

Red Flag! If anyone is sending you extra money, be very careful.
Red Flag! His sane conversation had turned comical with his incessant pleading and copious excitement over meeting me & the apartment
Red Flag! Hawaii is one of the states of United States. If he is already living in the USA (as he claims), he should be able to easily access his account or make an appropriate arrangement. If he was coming from another country, I might have believed him.

How the scam works?

  1. The buyer uses a cashier’s check or money order. They explain that this is their only option for payment.
  2. The seller or recipient gets a check for more than they asked for.
  3. The seller is supposed to send the extra money back to the buyer or to a “helper”

But’s here’s the catch. After you deposit the fradulent cheque in the bank, the bank must provide you with the cash to withdraw within 2 business days. But it can take sometimes take more than four days for banks to verify if the cheque is genuine4.

Once the bank finds out the cheque is bogus, it reverses the amount. In the meantime, if you had already transferred money to someone else, the money is lost. And now you also owe bank that transferred amount.

So far I have realized that this was a scamster. But I wanted to have some fun 😉.

Next morning, he replies with a flattery message.

Red Flag! He didn't ask me how come I have orangutan in my apartment. How often do people keep apes as pets ? But all he cares about is cheque deposit.

Scam Instructions

  1. He had sent me images of the cheque to deposit with the following instructions

  2. You have to first of all print out both front and back of cheque

  3. PLEASE NOTE YOU MUST CUT both front and back of check out carefully to check size.

  4. Endorse the back of the check (sign) and write “For Mobile check Deposit Only” and sign.

  5. You will have to enter the required amount.

  6. Kindly send to me the screenshot/email from your financial institution once you are done.

Will appreciate if you can take print out today and initiate the mobile deposit so that the full amount will be credited into your account by tomorrow.

Fun with the scammer

Now I am fabricating outlandish lies about myself to see how he reacts.

Red Flag! He has no problem with me being cannibal or nude. He was agreeing to pretty much everything I was saying.

Conclusion

When we read about scams, our first reaction is to dismiss it wholeheartedly with a mere retort “How can someone by that stupid? “. But I have personally known many smart people falling to many scams like rent scam, USCIS scam, 911 scam, etc. Luckily I had met an old friend a month ago who had warned me about this scam.

The best remedy against any scam is knowledge.

Reference


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