Monday, April 27, 2015

Craigslist Home Rental Scam: Part 3

I move around a lot, so I often have several ads running in the 'housing wanted' section of Craigslist. As a result, I'm frequently targeted by scammers who want me to wire money in exchange for a house key and rental related documents.

The latest scammer targeting me is a Mr. "Bill Warren".

We've emailed the past several days, and Bill sent me a lease or rental contract of some kind.
Caution! It is risky to download and open PDF files sent from strangers. I often use Gmail for my craigslist ads. Supposedly Google's Gmail service scans such attachments for viruses, but that's no guarantee it's safe to download and open them with Adobe Reader. PDF files can infect your computer. There might be a malicious exe application embedded in the file, or, once opened, the file might automatically connect to an attack website which instantly downloads trojans to your PC.

I gambled and downloaded the file, but before opening it -- I ran multiple AV scans of my own, using malware detection tools on my PC, as well as uploaded the file to Virustotal for independent analysis.
Scan results came back clean, so I opened it. Here's some screen caps of parts of the contract.

If nothing else, Bill Warren seems good at quickly drafting personalized rental contracts in pdf format. The false name I gave him was in the contract, and properly spelled. In Line 13 at the bottom, Bill requests a $450 security deposit. And in the email I received, Bill also wants the first month's rent up front, another $500.

Bill might know how to draft pdf docs well,  but Bill sucks at telling lies and hustling guys like me. I asked Bill for his phone number and said I would call from a pay phone to discuss the rental, since I have no cell phone. I also asked Bill to meet me in person, if he couldn't talk on the phone. Bill's laughable reply was:

"As you know I am out of town now, in a mining site where we are not allowed to make or receive calls, but you can text me on my phone"

Okay, so Bill's in a "mining site" of some kind. Perhaps he's mining blood diamonds in Sierra Leone, and the mine shaft boss will chop off his hand if he's caught making calls on company time. Perfectly understandable Bill. But thanks for giving me your number to text. Bill Warren's number is:

(914) 341-4579

Westchester County, NY area code.
Reverse Phone Lookup Info:
Phone Type: Landline
Phone Company: Cablevision Lightpath Inc. NY
Country: USA - United States City: WSCHSTZN06
State: New York

This might be a caller ID spoofed number, using a VoIP service such as MagicJack. But who knows. Maybe Bill is stupid enough to use his real home phone landline to commit wire fraud.

After BSing Bill a bit more, he gave me the following wire transfer info to send $950 rent plus deposit. Mind you, Bill has not even provided an actual address of the home he claims to be renting. That important info might foil his scam.

MoneyGram Receiver Name: Stella Mae Hill
Address: 92 S 10th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249

"As soon as your payment is confirmed, i'll issue you an acknowledgment receipt and all the necessary details to move in including the keys of the apartment via UPS courier within a day delivery to the current address you provided so that you can move in anytime you that suite you.

You will see Moneygram outlet at Post Office, when you get there just
pick a form, fill it with your Name as sender, amount, and use the details I provided as receiver, After sending the money, you will be given a receipt , then get back to me with details in the receipt.

I look forward to hearing from you

Bill Warren

Of course these scammers would prefer to rip people off using only emails, and never give out a number for calling or texts. Text messages are recorded by cell providers, which can be used as incriminating evidence in court. And they dread speaking on the phone, because they can't hide their thick foreign accent, and it's not as easy to lie face to face as it is via emails and texts. But I don't make it easy for them. I string the scumbags along and sucker them into my trap. I want phone numbers, as well as the name & address they want me to use for the money transfer. Hopefully that makes it easier for the cops to investigate.

bill warren
to me

Hello i dont know if you are really serious about renting my house,i
need to know what you are doing about the payment as my lawyer ve done
everything ready,,so let me know if you are still for the room?? hope
to read back from you soon...

Bill, or is it Stella Mae Hill? I promise, the check is in the mail. 
Dig deeper, I'm sure it's there somewhere.

bill warren
to me
I have another serious tenant that is asking for the rent agreement since 6 days ago,but ve  not sent her the rent agreement since you had shown interest and never paid,i dont know what is happening and really want to know if you are still in need of my room as a tenant,,,pls reply asap so i will not look like a wicked person,hope to read back from you soon..

Bill, I swear to GOD I sent you a Moneygram for $950. Why would I lie to you? I'm as honest as you are.


  1. Well, thanks to this post I didn't fall prey to the same scam - I like to think I wouldn't have anyway, but I almost did - emailing with a "Laura Moore"- but same deal - and same identical bad grammar, poor spelling, "landline," "out of town" etc. And what gave it away was the same lawyer - Stella Mae Hill. You think they'd change the name, fer God's sake, to avoid coming up in searches like this.

    1. Glad to hear you didn't get suckered in. It appears they've also recently used transfer recipient address 42 South Street Brooklyn, NY, according to an Orlando Craigslist post.


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