Anatomy of a craigslist scam

They say on craigslist to beware of people wanting you to wire $$$ and there’s a reason for it! I posted an ad on Seoul’s craigslist looking for a sublet, and this dicklick replied saying that he had a big place available for $1000, but he wanted me to pay $500 upfront as a deposit. Oh yeah, and he’s currently in London.

Since I’m not in Korea yet I thought ok, I’ll send him the money after doing some homework. Yeah, he’s a fucking scammer. He pulled some pics off a website, claimed it was his, and asked for money via Western Union. Looking back at it now it seems pretty obvious, but I really wanted to rent this place (it’s fucking huge) so it took some digging to know for sure what was going on.

Below is my Skype transcript with my friend Dan who lives pretty close to where this apartment is located. It goes from me still thinking the deal is real to finding out how close I came to getting hosed!

[8:44:43 PM] Michael: so I’ve got a possible submet with a guy who has an apt in 반포

[8:45:02 PM] Dan: i assume you meant sublet

[8:45:02 PM] Michael: he’s in London, and he has an “agent” taking care of renting his place out

[8:45:09 PM] Michael: yeah sublet

[8:45:31 PM] Dan: ok

[8:45:40 PM] Michael: so its $1000 for the month and he wants me to western union him $500 deposit, and before I do that I’m gonna want him to do a contract

[8:45:49 PM] Dan: ok

[8:46:29 PM] Michael: the contract could turn out to be meaningless since I’m not there to sign it, but just to make sure this is legit I might ask you to go look at the place and meet the agent

[8:46:44 PM] Michael: is that ok?

[8:47:01 PM] Michael: 반포 is kind of in your area right?

[8:47:08 PM] Dan: hmmm

[8:47:18 PM] Dan: generally, sure i don’t mind

[8:47:25 PM] Dan: specifically, it’ll depend on timing and

[8:47:30 PM] Dan: if i’m busy etc.

[8:47:49 PM] Michael: it’s so close that I may just tell him forget the deposit and I’ll take a chance on it being available when we get there

[8:47:53 PM] Dan: do you have a time frame?

[8:48:07 PM] Michael: depends, he hasn’t gotten back to me on the contract yet

[8:48:18 PM] Michael: I’m not sending him a penny until I see the terms in writing

[8:48:21 PM] Dan: ur gonna split it with alaska?

[8:48:24 PM] Michael: yes

[8:48:50 PM] Dan: 1m / month?

[8:48:54 PM] Dan: Won?

[8:48:55 PM] Michael: us$1000

[8:49:00 PM] Dan: that’s steep

[8:49:02 PM] Michael: looks like a big place!

[8:49:15 PM] Dan: it’s month to month?

[8:49:37 PM] Michael: pics are tiny, like thumbnails, but its 75 “net”, which I guess is actual floor space

[8:49:47 PM] Dan: 75 pyung is huge

[8:49:48 PM] Michael: I told him we’d rent it for just one month

[8:50:00 PM] Dan: that’s 2xs the size of my apartment

[8:50:03 PM] Michael: we should be able to get our own apts in that time

[8:50:14 PM] Dan: if i were u, i’d do this:

[8:50:25 PM] Dan: just come and stay at yogwan for about a week

[8:50:40 PM] Dan: if you do a month stay at a yogwan, it’ll cost less than 500 (you can get a deal)

[8:50:44 PM] Dan: no committment

[8:50:46 PM] Dan: you have time to look etc

[8:50:50 PM] Dan: or

[8:50:57 PM] Dan: do a HASUK JIB for a month

[8:51:04 PM] Dan: they’ll let u get by on only rent

[8:51:08 PM] Michael: yogwan was the original plan

[8:51:10 PM] Dan: if you come and get this phat pad

[8:51:15 PM] Michael: hasuk probly won’t allow terry

[8:51:19 PM] Dan: would you really want to move into something dinky afterwards?

[8:51:32 PM] Dan: wat about asking nik to look after terry for a bit?

[8:51:44 PM] Michael: TERRY STAYS WITH ME!

[8:51:53 PM] Dan: hmmm

[8:52:10 PM] Dan: that seems like a lot of money to commit, sight unseen

[8:52:16 PM] Dan: and if you’re willing to spend that much

[8:52:21 PM] Dan: i think you can prolly find a place

[8:52:27 PM] Dan: once you’re here

[8:52:32 PM] Michael: based on the pics I’m ok with it, but I need to know it’s not some scam

[8:52:35 PM] Dan: esp if you have 60 m in key

[8:52:41 PM] Dan: exactamundo

[8:52:44 PM] Dan: that’s what i mean

[8:52:58 PM] Michael: I don’t mind committing to a month in a big place

[8:53:13 PM] Michael: I wouldnt want to commit to a month in a yogwon tho

[8:53:23 PM] Michael: even if it means saving $

[8:53:27 PM] Dan: yogwon’s not that bad

[8:53:36 PM] Michael: yeah I know

[8:53:54 PM] Dan: besides, you might meet some interesting chicks

[8:53:57 PM] Michael: theres one in sinchon that Nik called and we’ll go there if we don’t have something else lined up

[8:54:06 PM] Michael: they’ll allow terry

[8:54:17 PM] Dan: there’s another near Kangnam that we always use

[8:54:20 PM] Dan: it’s near lee’s place

[8:54:23 PM] Dan: don’t know about dogs tho

[8:54:35 PM] Dan: we = espirit

[8:54:38 PM] Dan: for new teachers coming in

[8:55:37 PM] Michael: well I just wanted to see if you’d have time to *maybe* check this place out… might not be needed if we decide to just wait and pay when we get there

[8:56:04 PM] Dan: i can proly find time to do that

[8:56:13 PM] Dan: but i’d still say wait til u get here first

[8:56:34 PM] Michael: maybe I can work out a better price with the deposit

[8:56:39 PM] Michael: 800

[8:56:52 PM] Dan: send me the link. let me take a look

[8:57:19 PM] Michael: emailed

[8:57:23 PM] Michael: to ur gmail

[8:57:25 PM] Dan: just a sec

[9:00:09 PM] Michael: just found the link to the agency’s page, but images not loading:

[9:00:28 PM] Michael: well they didnt load in firefox, ok in chrome

[9:01:07 PM] Dan: looks like it’s on the river

[9:01:13 PM] Michael: yeah

[9:01:21 PM] Michael: price on the website is 10m/month!

[9:01:25 PM] Michael: 10 million

[9:01:36 PM] Dan: ???

[9:01:42 PM] Dan: see, that’s kinda weird

[9:01:44 PM] Dan: it’s a house

[9:01:46 PM] Dan: it’s huge

[9:01:53 PM] Dan: usually listings for that are pretty steep

[9:01:59 PM] Dan: $1000 US sounds really low now

[9:02:02 PM] Dan: for a house

[9:02:03 PM] Michael: maybe the guy’s desperate for $$$

[9:02:06 PM] Dan: it has a damn garden too

[9:02:10 PM] Michael: place sitting empty

[9:02:31 PM] Dan: but u know the adage

[9:02:36 PM] Dan: if its too good to be ture

[9:02:37 PM] Dan: rue

[9:02:40 PM] Michael: yeah

[9:03:01 PM] Dan: can u afford 500$ a month?

[9:03:10 PM] Dan: cuz once u move in there

[9:03:14 PM] Dan: i don’t think you’ll wanna move out

[9:03:16 PM] Dan: !

[9:03:33 PM] Michael: yeah I could but I doubt he’d want to do a long term deal like that

[9:04:00 PM] Dan: well, here are the sticking points for me:

[9:04:06 PM] Dan: 1) 2 diff prices, 2 diff websites

[9:04:16 PM] Dan: 2) clearly a nice place and $1000 sounds very low

[9:04:29 PM] Dan: 3) the guy’s in london and has an ‘agent’

[9:04:40 PM] Dan: those 3 things worry me

[9:04:44 PM] Dan: about sending money overseas

[9:04:52 PM] Michael: yeah I’m starting to think it might just be a scam

[9:05:12 PM] Michael: he grabs pics off the website, says its his, asks for $$

[9:05:33 PM] Dan: why don’t you have .. eunsung? what’s her name? .. call the real estate agent and ask soem questions in Korean?

[9:05:46 PM] Michael: makes me wonder why he didn’t just point me to that page for photos

[9:05:55 PM] Dan: btw, if the guy is from nigeria, it’s def a scam!

[9:06:17 PM] Michael: I only found the website by searching for the listing # found on his property info doc that he sent

[9:06:54 PM] Dan: i would be worried that the realestate agent would start laughing at me if i mentioned $1000/month

[9:07:23 PM] Michael: im calling the website’s english ph#


** Avoid: wiring money, cross-border deals, work-at-home

** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow, shipping

** More Info:

[9:07:35 PM] Dan: it says: wiring money!!

[9:07:48 PM] Michael: yeah I know about the scams

[9:08:13 PM] Michael: which is why I was gonna have u check it out

[9:08:34 PM] Michael: I cant dial the # for some reason

[9:08:46 PM] Michael: u mind calling? get away from lee for a few minutes: 82-2-795-6622

[9:08:53 PM] Dan: but i mean, even i met some korean dude and he showed me the place, how would we know?

[9:08:57 PM] Dan: okay just a sec.

[9:09:26 PM] Michael: ask if the owner is “Doug Moen”

[9:09:37 PM] Michael: whoops

[9:09:39 PM] Michael: Dan Moen

[9:09:46 PM] Michael: Dan Moen, not doug

[9:10:10 PM] Dan: brb

[9:10:14 PM] Michael: k

[9:15:41 PM] Dan: From the email you received:

[9:15:47 PM] Dan: “Hello I understand the content of your message and am so sorry for responding so late,it was due to an official assignment.”

[9:15:54 PM] Dan: that does not sound like a native speaker

[9:16:00 PM] Michael: no, I can tell hes not

[9:16:21 PM] Dan: according to the agent,

[9:16:24 PM] Dan: i talked to on the phone

[9:16:28 PM] Dan: i gave her the code #

[9:16:32 PM] Dan: and asked her about the place

[9:16:37 PM] Dan: she says it’s 10m / month

[9:16:43 PM] Dan: she says the owner lives on the 1st floor

[9:16:51 PM] Dan: she doesn’t know anything about a dan moen

[9:16:53 PM] Michael: lives there right now?

[9:17:00 PM] Dan: yes

[9:17:04 PM] Michael: omg

[9:17:09 PM] Michael: SCAM!

posted by Michael in Preparing to Flee on 1/6/2010 | No Comments