Dear PoPville – Classic Apartment Rental Scam?

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Photo by PoPville flickr user sophiagrrl

“Dear PoPville,

The response from a Craigslist apartment ad. This seems like a classic scam!”

Thanks for your interest in my apartment. I am Thomas Johnson a professional piano/music theory teacher, I’m easy going and friendly. I like Music and have deep interests in traveling. I respect every religion and love to hang around with people and i am definitely not a trouble maker and very helpful in nature. I am currently living in United Kingdom and I will be here for long that is why am renting out my apartment.

Location: 1530 16th St NW,Washington, DC 20036
Bedrooms (#) 1 bedroom
Bathrooms (#) 1 bathroom

In the heart of downtown Washington, D.C. central to Dupont and Logan Circles, within a 10-minute walk to the White House, the Hightowers apartment complex is a desirable choice for living. Built in 1938, our completely renovated units retain the timeless elegance of classic art deco style. •2 blocks east of DuPont Circle metro, 10 minute walk to the White House •Less than 2 minute walk to bus stops for routes G2 and S1/S2/S4/S9 •Front desk service •Art deco lobby equipped with state-of-the-art entry card system • Hardwood floors with individual A/C & heat •Heat & A/C •Water utilities are include in the rent •Electric ranges, dishwasher and built-in microwaves in each unit •Custom closet system with built in drawers •Newly installed double paned, noise cancelling windows •Roof Deck with a FANTASTIC view of the Washington Monument & The Capitol •Laundry facility •BRAND NEW Fitness Center •2 Blocks from Whole Foods, 1 block from Safeway •Located across the street from the Jewish Community Center which has a pool and a First-Class health club •Pet Friendly: Cats and Dogs allowed

So that you can check the apartment .i want you to know that the apartment have been locked and you will have to drive by and view the apartment form the surroundings,i want you to fill the application Below


1)Your Full Name ?
2)Present Address(where you reside now) ?
3)Phone ?
4)How old are you ?
5)Are you married ?
6)Occupation ?
7)Current rent payment ?
8)Reason for moving out ?
9)How many people will be living in the apartment ?
10)The rent fee available now ?
11)Monthly Income?
12)How long are you willing to stay ?
13)When do you intend to move in ?
14)Do you have a pet ?
15)Do you smoke ?
16)How many Month or Year Do you want to Stay?
17)Deposit : One or Two month Deposit are required?
18)Occupant Picture?
19)Reference Details?

Waiting to hear from you soon,


31 Comment

  • Thomas Johnson = scammer

  • Yes. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Plus, you can tell by the language. It’s probably copied and pasted from another legit ad.

    • I almost fell for one of these scams about a year ago until they asked me for a deposit before seeing the place. They also replied that they couldn’t show me the place because they were out of town. 2 sure-fire ways of telling if a listing is legit – 1. always view the place and meet the person involved. 2. Never respond to someone who expects money to be sent before even seeing the place.

      Craigslist is a scam pit, it’s a shame this has gone on this long. Any time an advertiser gives you a lengthy story about the details of a property, that’s usually a sure fire sign of a scam, also Google the property address to make sure it’s not listed with different contact info, scammers usually copy info from a more expensive listing of the same property somewhere else on the net, if you find it listed with another number and for a higher price, then you know it’s probably a scam.

  • Who falls for this?

    • Seems hard to believe, but there are people who are extremely trusting and maybe not that savvy with Craigslist rentals…plus, it takes very little effort to post the ad, and only 1 person to fall for it for the scammers to win.

    • “The apartment is locked so you have to drive by to see it”?!

      Seriously, JHC how are people that clueless? Who would rent a place that didnt make it available to show?

    • People who want to believe they found an affordable place to live… Scammers are good at sounding like innocent property owners who are not up on the market rate increases, and they take time to develop targeted responses to their victims to create the impression of honesty. It can happen to anyone who’s not used to renting places in DC. But yes, the minute you hear that you need to make a deposit, yet can’t see the place and meet the person behind the listing, that’s the tip-off.

    • Gullible, naive people. And clearly there are no shortage of them which is why scams like this are constantly in the media etc. Anonymous 2:38 has it right: if something seems good to be true then assume it is.

  • First, Yes, I’m aware he’s a fraud. But what makes it a scam? The “name/address/phone”-identity-stealing-esque part of this. I can find that on most people in 5mins. No bank routing codes, credit cards, etc info are requested.

    • This is a prelude to the actual scam part. Once the person has provided the information, the “landlord” will ask him/her to wire money.

    • A request to wire money makes it a scam. ALWAYS a scam! Never wire money for anything to anyone anywhere ever and you will be fine.

  • laurelo

    I received a similar response to an ad I answered. The “landlord” lived in the UK and had the only set of keys to the apartment, which I would receive upon move-in. Riiiiiiight.

  • Yep, overseas “landlord” plus not being able to actually get into the apartment in advance = scam for sure. Plus the response incongruously starts it as if the person is pitching themselves as a tenant/roommate, even though he’s the one renting out the place. Like another commenter said, probably lifted from other ads.

    It would be interesting to see what length the scammer would go to in order to play out the thread–for example, if the OP pressed the poster for details or offered to connect with the building super to let him in to see the apartment.

    • OP here – Yes, I could take this further, but quite honestly, I’m more interested in looking at a legit place! My landlord has decided to significantly jack up the rent.

    • When I was selling a refrigerator in 2009, I got one of these “I am moving to your town, the company will pick it up, I will send you a check” only to be followed with “Oops, I sent a check for $2000 (refrigerator was for sale for $100), could you wire me the $1900”. I actually got a check from the guy in the mail – it was from a woman in California (probably some poor woman who is laundering him this money and thinks she has a “stay at home job making 200K a year!”.

      I tried to play along further to see how far I could take it, but he eventually realized I knew what was up…oh well. Took the check to the Sheriff’s office in my hometown and they were basically like, we can’t do anything about it – which I figured this much.

      • Yeah, the money-swap is another common scam–usually the victim gives back 90-ish% of the money immediately after depositing the check, then in the clearing process the check actually bounces, so the victim is out the funds. I heard about this happening with help-wanted ads for nannies. The scammer has a convincing backstory and a bunch of cute family photos to email the prospective nanny, but is overseas temporarily and sends an advance or signing bonus or something by check. Then, they make up some reason why they have to return to the US sooner than anticipated and why they don’t have the funds on hand, and could the nanny please wire back $X of what they sent, and they’ll reimburse her.

  • It’s a scam. Ran into something similar when I was looking in 2011.

  • Ugh, I got responses like this all the time when responding to apartment ads on Craigslist. As soon as you read that the landlord is traveling/in another country = scam!

  • I’d suspect most of those questions are illegal to ask a prospective tenant and a legit landlord would know that.

  • I changed apts. recently and unfortunately ran across several similar scams like this in DC’s craigslist…one of the more professional looking ones actually came up on a search and has been done word for word across the US for a few years now…most of them claim to be in the Logan/Dupont area…

  • I live in that building! I’m so glad they have to “drive by” since and enjoy the surroundings. What a scam. I will probably forward to my management company…

  • The “overseas landlord” and “not being able to see the apartment” factors are the main tipoff that it’s a scam, but the off-kilter English in the listing is also a clue:

    – ” I am currently living in United Kingdom”
    – ” I will be here for long”
    – “the apartment have been locked”

  • I got the same email when I was apartment hunting in Australia in 2009 and in DC in 2011!

  • As a landlord, you get the reverse fake offers from individuals who are out of the country, willing to overpay and sign a lease sight unseen. Usually they respond first, so that’s how you know your ad posted ;). Thankfully they’re mostly poorly written and easy to weed out. The convincing ones disappear after you mention that the lease must be signed in person and point them to your credit checking service.

    Though its also annoying to see your ad and photos ripped off by the mentioned fake landlords as well.

  • Ha, I live in this building! Needless to say, that is definitely not the landlord. But I wish that was the rent.

  • Anyone read The New Yorker? There’s an awesome article (last week, I think? By Tad Friend?) about the consummate rental scam – well, there actual IS an apartment, and prospectives DO actually get to see it – but still. Lots of smart, experienced people get taken. Surreal and somewhat nauseating to read!

  • Funny. My besties have two apartments in DC that they rent out — and they are currently living in the UK. Great apartments, totally legit. I see now why they’re having trouble finding prospective tenants!

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