It looks a lot like your house… wait a minute! It is your house.
This sounds like a bad joke but it has really happened to one Revelstoke woman.
School teacher Sue Leach said a good friend contacted her on January 14 to tell her that her house was being advertised for rent.
“Yikes!” Sue said as she asked me if I could contact the Stoke List’s Karilyn Kempton “in case there is a scam in the making.”
I called Karilyn who was alarmed when I told her that Sue’s house at 1300 Front Street was being listed as a rental when it was actually up for sale. She said that was the second complaint she had received about a local house being falsely listed for rent.
“Crazy story!” she said.
“The sad thing is, people do get scammed on the Internet. Good to put the word out there. Occasionally Stoke List users will post warnings about scams, so I’m glad to see that it is a little bit self-policing. I do try to delete as many scam ads as I can (some, like the exotic pet ads, are quite obvious). Someone posted a while back about a scam and finished it by saying we might as well be flattered that scammers think the Stoke List is important enough to scam. Glad you picked up on it right away.”
Karilyn’s partner, Simon Wex said he hadn’t spent any real time investigating such scams.
“I did find that the obvious scams weren’t being posted from Revelstoke. You’ll notice that I then added the “Posted From” field at the bottom of posts. It isn’t 100% accurate, but for a free service, it was the best I could do.”
Curious, I decided to see what would happen if I sent an e-mail inquiry to the person who posted the for-rent ad on Sue’s home.
“How much are you asking for this?” I asked
Here’s the reply I received:
From: Derek Herringthon email@example.com
Subject: Re: 4 bedroom home for rent in downtown revy
Date: January 15, 2012 11:51:23 AM PST
To: David Rooney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The house offers comfort and style, from the bright and elegant living room to the contemporary designer kitchen, which comes fully-equipped with everything you may need during your living there, It is also spacious and inviting, and has been furnished with top quality fittings and features. their is carefully selected light fittings to the intricate interior decor. Bedrooms are bright and spacious, and offer a cozzy experience.
Amenities: Parking, TV, DVD Player, Wifi High-Speed Internet, Gas Heating (“Gas Natural”), Central Air Conditioning, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Washing Machine, Dryer, Oven, Microwave, electric kettle, cooker, autonomous hot water supply,The floor is heated,the apartment has a perfect location.
Don’t be nervous am saying so much classy thing about my place,what is your budget and are you looking for short or long term?how many of you would be living there?I relocated from there to Ukraine and that’s why am renting it out,if not it’s a lovely place to reside.My phone number might not go as it is roamed or might be switched off if am not at work.
Omega Equipment Services, Inc.
Do you notice anything about this guy’s command of the English language? Despite his use of the word “cooker,” which is an Anglicism, he doesn’t write as though he is a true English speaker, does he?
It was obvious to me and to Sue that this was a scam. The friend who originally told Sue about it received a nearly identical response. And although she didn’t take it much further, I did. I wanted to know who and where this guy was and how much money he thought he could scam from us. So, I asked him how much he wanted for it. Here’s his reply:
You will make out a refundable deposit payment to me as a sign of commitment,you will then give me a date so i can come over to hand over keys,receipt,sign lease and show you around.
Deposit would be refunded if you won’t be in the area any longer,maybe found another place to stay or my rental doesn’t seem appealing again after viewing which i know it’s impossible.Forget to say their is fridge and freezer and oven.I will exchange location area details and more pictures if you want to proceed.
When I asked him how much he wanted as a deposit he responded:
The deposit will be made out through western union money transfer or money gram agent near to you,i will be needing some of your details before i send you my details and address to which the money will be made out.As soon as i receive the payment i will travel over to meet with keys and relevant document. 2 yrs ago when vacating abroad some Mexican contacted my wife and me to rent and we sent address to them to look up,they leverage on the opportunity of our not been around to loot our property ok?I will travel over and meet you personally if you are interested in this,the value of the property is higher than what we are giving out because a tenant that will take care of it matters to us most.I have accepted your budget.I would be there whenever you want me to be in as much you make out the deposit.i can send more pics and address ok?
I really wanted this putz to ask for a specific amount of money so I sent him another e-mail:
From: “David Rooney” <email@example.com>
To: “Derek Herringthon” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, 15 January, 2012 18:15:22 GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Re: 4 bedroom home for rent in downtown revy
My partner would like to see some additional photos. And I would like to know how much you want for the deposit and what the monthly rent will be. Once I have those I can arrange a deposit on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.
Derek, of course, thought he had hooked a real sucker and sent us a selection of photos. We have no idea where he got them but they are obviously not Sue’s house. Here’s his reply:
I hope your partner like the details i supply below,do you know the western union money transfer agent close to you?
To which I responded:
My partner was pleased with the photos. And the $2,000 is reasonable for a house like that. Let’s do this.
How do you want me to send the money to you?
At this point I contacted RCMP Const. Michael Shannon at our local detachment.
Mike and I talked it over and we decided that once he sent me the details of how the money would be transferred to this guy we would, if he was here in Canada, contact the nearest RCMP detachment and have them talk to the Western Union office Derek specified. They’d get Western Union to alert them when they called our buddy Derek and, when he showed up to collect the cash, they could bust him.
Unfortunately that didn’t happen.
And, finally, Derek (or perhaps I should call him Igor) sent this last message:
Make out the deposit through western union to my details below
Zip code- 91001
when you are through let me know and let me have the mtcn number then we shall organise meeting
That was definitely my last conversation with “Derek” who also sent me what he claimed was a scan of his British passport and birth certificate.
The fact that this self-described Brit was asking for the money to be sent to the Ukraine told Shannon and I that this guy was most likely working the scam for an East European criminal gang. There would be no point in going to the Ukrainian police as East European police forces are allegedly very corrupt and deeply penetrated by organized crime.
All of this info was, however, sent to the Mounties division that follows national and international frauds.
I haven’t heard anything back from Derek or Igor or whoever he is and don’t expect to hear from him either. But perhaps I’ll send him a copy of this column… just for fun.
PS: Is there a moral to this story? Be careful on the Internet. That sounds trite. But most people think nothing bad will happen to them online. And that is the wrong way to think. Bad stuff does happen to nice people