House Rental Scam

I have a friend that was looking at renting a house. She found a nice place on a free classifieds website.
The listing at a quick glance looked real and the photos looked really nice.
After a bit of looking into the text of the listing I started to get a bit concerned.

A few things stood out to me.

  • They were overseas on a “mission for god”. Not saying people don’t go overseas for that work, but when ever I see the word ‘god’ in something for sale or an email I think scam.
  • They for some reason have the keys overseas with them.
  • They are really religious doing missions overseas, but for some reason they don’t trust anyone here that can be a 3rd party to do the exchange of keys & money
  • They will only express post the keys, but if they don’t receive the bond and 1st few weeks rent they will call the postage company and get the package returned

 

I figured it was a scam and told her what I thought but it didn’t do much good.
She hoped it would be real and corresponded with the seller. A bit later they said that a package was sent. I don’t know if any money was exchanged, I hope not anyway.

They sent through a tracking number ( EC932373096US ) which I kept checking for her. This made it seem more legit, but I wondered what would actually be in the package.

After a week of checking I decided to do some further research.

I started by looking at the other houses on the classifies website.
ALL of them seemed to be similar. Similar wording and under the price for what you would expect for the area.
I then looked at some of the photos. They all seemed very nice places. But then I noticed something. One was a 15th floor apartment.
Adelaide is a small city. There aren’t many buildings that tall, but fair enough it could be.
I then noticed something, outside the window of this 15th story apartment is a tree, the big bushy part of a tree?! How many trees grow 15 stories tall, especially in the middle of a city?
Next I noticed that the ceiling inside of the apartment had sloping roof beams. I don’t know of any multi story building that would have sloping exposed wood roof beams. The person above must hate their uneven floor.

By this stage I was 110%++ sure it was a scam.

My next bit of research was to check out the shipping company “iShip”. I couldn’t find much on Google about them. They seemed legit.
Next I searched Google for “iship”+scam which returned 500+ results.

One page said it all. I never saw the email correspondence between my friend and the ‘seller’ so im not sure if its exactly the same, but its definitely close.

http://aspiringtoordinary.blogspot.com/2008/01/beware-of-west-africa-house-for-rent.html

The same tracking number EC932373096US is also listed on that site.
Its interesting to note that the tracking number always says in transit.

There seem to be a number of other scams listed on Google to do with iShip. I’m not saying they are running scam, but I think they are being used for scams.

The listings last I checked are still on the sites, so be careful everyone.

Update:
I just found a news article which mentions a rental scam which sounds rather similar.
http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,24212334-5005962,00.html

 

Tenants looking for properties via online sites are being warned about bogus “owners” who give various reasons why the tenant cannot inspect the property, but still asks them to provide an upfront rent or deposit payment.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s SCAMwatch service says scammers often use multiple accommodation sites to post fake listings.

It says they go to great lengths to ensure the ads look genuine, including real photos and addresses.

Consumers have been warned about “too good to be true offers”, claims the property can only be secured by an upfront fee via a money transfer, and ongoing excuses why an inspection can’t take place.

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