Antonio & Alexia's Blog


Meet my new Landlord from Africa. The one that hijacked my listing.

With the number of people displaced by foreclosures and short sales, the real estate rental market is very active. Scamers have taken notice and are out there trying to extort money from renters. This is not a new trend, as a matter of fact this is not the first time I have had one of my listings taken over, pictures and all, posted on Craig's List as a bargain rental. When I start getting phone calls from renters on my listings I know someone is trying to extort money from them using my listing ads.

In a recent episode, I went to Craig's List and looked for the ad. Sure enough, there it was, my pictures and my description of the house, address and all. The rent was very low which explains the number of calls. I decided to send an e-mail and ask to be considered as a tenant.  I filled out a simple questionnaire and gave my real e-mail address, I promised to pay up to 3 months in advance if I was chosen as the tenant. The landlord explained in an e-mail that he and his family were in Lagos, Nigeria on an assignment from their church and won't be coming back for about a year.

Scam targeting renters


The response was quick and I was offered the house for rent, the landlord asked that I send the $850.00 first month rent only, and that I could send the second months rent the following week and then the third month on the third week. The reason, I learned later, is that there is a process where if you send more than a $1,000 via Western Union you will need to fill out a few tax forms and this transaction could be flagged. These people know the rules about international wires and their limits and conditions, you can tell they have done this many times over.
I responded that my wife wanted to see the house before signing the rental agreement which the landlord said will be sent with the keys as soon as he gets the money. We even suggested that we could call the Realtor and ask him to show us the house. An immediate  explanation come back saying that they wanted to sell the house but they had changed their mind and had not told the Realtor yet. We were warned NOT to talk to the Realtor at all.

Playing along with the conman I ask if we could see pictures of the inside of the house and since he had said he will come and visit us, we wanted to see pictures of him and his family too. A set of very nice pictures of a newer home arrive, and also a family shot of a Caucasian family, including 2 small children. Very detailed steps were sent to us about how and where to send the money. We insisted on seen the rental agreement first, within minutes a California Rental Agreement was sent, I was surprised to see how accurate the legal the document was. We agree to send the money as instructed.

Within the next two days the conman send us e-mails asking if we had sent the money. We told him we did, but also told him that we had gone to the house and saw the Realtor and had an opportunity to see the house, we confided that we had left a back door opened and that we planned to take possession of the house within the next day or so.

Our conman insisted that we give him the 10 digit number for the wire, we did, he become frustrated because no such number existed and demanded to see a copy of the wire transfer, we told him we were already in the house and planned to have a BBQ the next day. But with the moving we could not remember where the receipt was... but that we were enjoying his house.

His frustration grew and he become rather hostile, while he wanted to know if we had followed his wire instructions step by step, we kept telling him about the colors we were thinking of painting different rooms in the house! I think that at one point he knew he had been duped and asked if we were playing with him and taking him for a fool, we quickly confirmed his suspicions and told him that his e-mail has been blocked and he will never be able to communicate with us anymore.

All I wanted to know is how far these people go to steal money from potential renters, obviously they know how international wires work, how much money is allowed to be sent without arousing suspicions from the financial entities, and what the process entail.

This process created by others on the other side of the world bring unnecessary attention to a house for sale by people that will not be buying, once their money is taken, they might even come to the seller to find answers as to why they lost their money. Renters be aware: DO NOT SEND MONEY OVERSEAS, YOU'LL NEVER GET IT BACK. If there is a for sale sign, call the Realtor and get some answers!

The Realtors In Motion       Antonio & Alexia Cardenas   

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Comment balloon 9 commentsAntonio & Alexia Cardenas • August 30 2009 06:52PM


Antonio:  You are the best.  You coned a con man.  If we all did this maybe they would just give up waisting their time trying to con us honest folks.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, -) over 10 years ago

Tooooo Funny! You should have told him that the previous renters left the house in shambles and asked him to send you $997 to clean it up for him before you moved in. It is amazing to see what people will do to avoid getting a real job.

Posted by Mark Hall, Homes for Sale Vancouver Washington (Realty One Group Cascadia) over 10 years ago

Ken, I am already thinking of how to handle the next "Landlord from Africa" it was actually fun and a pleasure having conned this guy. I can imagine him going to the western union asking repeatedly for his wire with a number that did not exist.

Mark, that is a good idea, sometimes I respond to those e-mails with winnings from a foreign loto that I never played but won with that same request: please send some money to establish the bank account before we received the entire amount. Thank you for your visit.


Posted by Antonio & Alexia Cardenas, "The Realtors In Motion" (Alameda County - San Leandro, CA.) over 10 years ago

Hello Antonio! I like the way you handled this!  I too am a victim of one of these scams, and played along with it as you did.  In addition, their ACTUAL ad was used in one of my posts!  "My Rental Listing Is A Craigslist Fradulent Target"

If there is something we can do collectively on this end to help curtail this (since their government does nothing) it could be powerful!  I pray that folks wise up and not continue to be naive!    

Posted by Diane Rice, SFR, SRES, CNC ( Rice Prprty Mgmnt & Rlty, LLC, South Holland, IL) over 10 years ago

Quite a story indeed.  I think you've succeeded in driving that nut-bag out of his mind.  Good for you.

Posted by Tom Boos, Providing the very best of service to Sellers and (Sine & Monaghan Realtors, Real Living) over 10 years ago

Dianna, I read you blog and realized we had the same experience, I just take the high road and have fun with this, there is not much we can do, these people are far away and I don't think the US law applies to them.

Tom, we are already thinking how to have fun with the next "landlord" from overseas, might as well have fun with it.



Posted by Antonio & Alexia Cardenas, "The Realtors In Motion" (Alameda County - San Leandro, CA.) over 10 years ago


ROLF! I loved it when you told us this story for the first time. In the last two years I've had my listing hijacked and posted on yahoo and craigslist as for rent. Fortunately, some folks had the sense to drive by the properties, saw the For Sale by Realtor, and called me. Some forwarded the emails they received, and I forwarded thm as scam to the appropriate sites. The unfortunate thing is that these folks can always get new and anonymous email addresses.

Craiglist has a good list of what not to do ---- such as giving a lot of personal info.

Good post!

Posted by Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA (Alain Pinel) over 10 years ago

Antonio,  The exploitation of CL is the down side, but it's been a great tool for us.

Posted by Steve, Joel & Steve A. Chain (Chain Real Estate Investments & Mortgage, Steve & Joel Chain) over 10 years ago

I think we are going to see a lot more renters trying to sell a home FSBO and collect deposits and leave in the middle of the night again also. I saw this trend about 10 years ago when things started to get tough.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) over 10 years ago