Unfortunate “Ann” found us on Kijiji, where Calgary Dwelling Consultants was advertising a property. She is often found on Kijiji, trying to solve her perpetual homelessness, in many states and provinces. She’s been known to frequent Craigslist as well. She sent us this email:
“Thanks for getting back to me. My name is Ann Groh, I am 30 year old non smoker lady coming to Canada from US.I work at Port of Seattle in United state but coming to Canada for a business and holiday as im off at work for 6 months. I would have love to call you directly but im at sea presently and i have limited time to surf the internet and also phone calls is also strictly limited due to the work nature. Just to let you know little about myself. I am clean/tidy and trustworthy person so you have to worried less about the person occupying your room. Please let me know the total cost covering my first four months rent together with damage deposit. I would also like you to get back to me with the full house address so that i can forward it to my freight company in order to calculate the total cost of shipping my little stuffs there. I would be gladden to read from you soon. God Bless.”
Why do I feel sorry for her? Because she has the worst luck keeping a place. If you google this message, you’ll see dozens of people who have received the same email.
For those who are thoughtful enough to respond, they get a money order. And here’s another place where you have to feel sorry for her. She has no math skills. The money order is always greater than the rent and damage deposit. So she asks for you to send back the amount that she overpaid.
And this is where you have to really feel sorry for her. Because, it turns out that mean ole’ bank gave her a fake money order. So after you’ve given her the refund, the amount of the original money order disappears from your bank account.
Oh, and I’m guessing that she has visa issues, because she never actually manages to get across the border from Seattle.
You know, I’m frequently amazed that people still try this, but it must work because the emails keep coming. So we thought we’d digress from our series on taxes for a moment and throw this onto the website for our visitors to read.
How did we know this was a scam? There were three lots of red flags.
- Tenants almost never want to take a property sight unseen, it’s too risky. When you’re renting a place you’ll be calling home, you want to see it first – unless you knew the previous tenant or the landlord.
- This ad was trying to focus on the potential instant money and away from obtaining information on the tenant – especially since the “tenant” indicated they were inaccessible.
- I had heard of something similar from a friend who is also a landlord in B.C., so I copied a section of Ana’s text and inserted it into a google search box, and voila! Up came all kinds of warnings exposing the scam- most from Ana Groh.
- Within a week I received three other similar emails from people with bad grammar and spelling, all claiming they were coming from the USA on short term stays, all wanting to pay a lump sum now – all from the kijiji ad.
If you haven’t gotten many calls from your ad, and then out of the blue you get this magical tenant who wants to come now and pay in a lump sum right away, it probably sounds pretty good. However, you can trust your gut telling you something is off. You can also trust your experience as a landlord when comparing this response to typical previous tenant behavior. And lastly, you can verify your gut instinct and experience by utilizing your friend google.
How you do you prevent yourself from getting scammed by potential tenants? Have a look at this article which describes a few more of the issues that you can experience with tenants, or skip straight to our article Following the Vetting Process to find out how to mitigate the risk of those experiences.