• United States




Aug 06, 201011 mins
Data and Information SecurityIdentity Management SolutionsIT Leadership

I decided I would look for a new apartment in a certain highly political town. The usual sites are much like automobile sales sites. Offer the cheapest car possible stripped down to nothing but the bare bones (no AC, only a radio, no power windows, seats, etc.), you get the idea. Of course that vehicle is never available – it is an upsell game to get you onsite.

Well, the apartment market on Craigslist is even worse. Apartments are listed much the same as autos and are about as available as the cars listed. If you are inquiring from afar, you search the Internet for available apartments seeking the best possible digs. As you seek the best, those looking to scam you offer the best. Taking text and language directly from legitimate postings, scam artists rework the listing to fit their desires and your needs. It is a zero sum game.

Eager to find a new pad, many surfers scour Craigslist (herein to be known as Griftslist) searching for the prime property that aligns with their most attentive dreams. Before you know it, the most cool flat presents itself as if no one was in your search class.

Craig who showed up at RSA 2010 in San Fran this year might seem to be security sympathetic but I believe you need to actually integrate marketing and sales with actual security sympathy (at least a bit of empathy). They are truly separate and devoid of one another on Griftslist. It is like a supremely bad marriage where the dog comes first; being the best friend in the ‘country and western’ song.  

I started the inquiry when I found this 1100 square foot apartment near the metro line that was fully furnished. The pictures showed a really sharp apartment all laid out with the latest accoutrements. Very modern, clean, neat, well appointed. The initial response I received was pretty well written:

Thanks for taking the time to look at my property. My name is Jessica Anderson. I’m 43 years old, I’m a construction engineer and I’m the owner of this condo(2 bedrooms,2 bathrooms,1100 square footage). I lived in this beautiful condo for over 5 years, loved every day of it. The prime location cannot be beat, and the garaged parking is an amenity sure to be appreciated by anyone who has lived in a big city. The condo is located in the legendary Park Somerset at 5630 Wisconsin Ave, Chevy Chase, MD. One street from Friendship Blvd and N Park Avenue, 5 min to Friendship Heights Metro.

The condo is fully furnished with all necessary amenities (exactly like in the pics), the unit is equipped with recessed lighting, central air and heat, the condo come with two parking spots, a storage unit where you can deposit my furniture (if you don’t like it and you want use your furniture), there is also a linen closet, and most importantly, a new front loading stacked washer and drier…Pets allowed. The kitchen eating area is a large piece of granite that serves as counter space in the kitchen, and as the table in the Living Room side. The counter seats 4 comfortably. The entertainment center is a beautiful credenza that is topped with a brand new   55′ High-Definition LCD TV. The stereo acts as the 5 speaker surround sound for the TV, the radio and CD player. The stereo also is a DVD player and is capable of having an iPod plugged right into a USB port. The Master Bedroom is large with high ceilings, has two windows, a walk-in closet and it has its own bathroom. The room has a large, very comfortable Cali-King bed. There are several dressers with an ample amount of drawers. The room also has a desk with several drawers and a file cabinet. The walls are decorated with nice artwork and floating shelves. The bathroom has a large, tiled shower stall behind a glass door. The vanity is covered with a beautiful piece of granite and between the vanity, shelves and medicine cabinet; there is plenty of space for toiletries. The Guest Bedroom is actually larger than the Master.  It has high ceilings, two large closets and a dresser with two matching nightstands. There is one window, a coffee table and a brand new chair and ottoman. Just outside the door two the bedroom is the Guest Bathroom. The guest bath features a large jacuzzi tub and shower. The vanity is large and is covered with granite. There is also a linen closet, and most importantly, a new front loading stacked washer and drier. The area is clean, safe and beautifully.

I have moved to United Kingdom with my job (I am a construction engineer) and decided to rent it because the rent is very expensive here. The price is so low because I’m here and is very hard to find a tenant. I can rent you the condo for min. 1 month and max. 6 years (or more).I really want to find a good and responsible tenant for it, and I hope that you can send me some personal information about yourself.


The rent for the whole condo for 1 month is $1000 including all utilities(water, electricity, internet, cable, parking, air-conditioning, fireplace, dishwasher, garbage) and the security deposit is 1000$(you’ll get the deposit back at your departure-or you can use it to pay your last month of rent) and I want to receive the money monthly in my bank account. You can move in the condo in the same day when you receive the keys. The only problem is that I`m the only person who has the keys and I have nobody in United States that could show you the condo. In order to check it, see if you like it (I’m sure that you’ll love it), you need to receive the keys and the contract.

If you want to rent the condo, please e-mail me back and I will explain you how the payment and shipping will take place!


Jessica Anderson

I responded indicating my keen interest in the apartment. The next response I received was not as well crafted demonstrating that the first response was the first barb in the hook; a response that they had time to create taking directly from other ads of the same type and nature. 




Subject: RE: 1000$ Newly Renovated Condo — Chevy Chase‏‏‏‏‏‏‏

Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 17:32:53 +0000

Thank you for your reply.

Before going further with anything I must tell you that for payments I will use the eBay Company, they will secure the transaction of payments. I will open a CASE ID# at eBay Company for this transaction and I will give them your full name, shipping info, phone# and indicate you as my tenant. After that, they will contact you with the payment details, and they will ask you to send them a refundable deposit, $2000 in 24 hours(the money will be for the first month of rent + the security deposit). After they receive your deposit, they will notify me immediately to start the shipping of the keys and the contract. You will receive a tracking number in max 12 hours after they receive your deposit. The keys will reach to you in 3-4 days. After you’ll receive the keys and the contract, the 14 days of inspection period will start( you’ll have 14 days to see the condo, read the contract,

decide if you keep the condo or not. After the inspection you will contact them and tell your decision: TAKE THE CONDO or NOT TAKE THE CONDO !In case you’ll take it you’ll have to send them a copy of the contract signed by you and they will release the money to me, if not you’ll have to send them the contract unsigned and they will refund your money(2000$), the contract and the keys will be shipped back at my expenses! I will pay the shipping and you’ll have to pay the money transfer fee for the

refundable deposit.

Once again:

1. If you have the money 2000$ and if you want to rent it send me your full name, your shipping address and your phone#

2. I will open a CASE ID# at eBay Company for this transaction , and I will give them your info, and indicate you as my tenant.

3. After that, they will contact you with the payment details(you’ll have to send them 2000$ via money transfer in the next 24 hours-you’ll need cash)

4. After they receive your deposit, they will notify me immediately to start the shipping, and you will receive a  tracking number in max 12 hours after they receive your deposit.

5.From the moment you receive the keys the 14 days inspection period will start.I will make the transaction only in this way so if you have the money and if you want to rent my condo send me your full name, your shipping address, your phone# and I’ll start the procedure.



The grift is on as the con lays out the process, issues and methods of payment. The eBay route is different wrinkle since the usual method is Moneygram or Western Union. I wasn’t really sure how eBay would facilitate a money transfer and provide some guarantees of reimbursement. Of course, one would beg the question: “Why do I have to put up $2k to see an apartment that I may not take? 

The second communication is very poorly written with grammar errors and mistakes demonstrating the dear Jessica has a limited command of the English vernacular. 

I let Jessica know that I was interested seeing that I would get a refund through eBay, eBay being reputable and having some solid controls in place. Jessica then responded:



Subject: RE: 1000$ Newly Renovated Condo — Chevy Chase‏‏‏‏‏‏‏

Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2010 17:50:14 +0000

Ok if you want to rent my condo send me your full name, your shipping address, your phone# and I’ll start the procedure.



I provided Jessica with my info (including a phone number):

First name:


Last name:



2948 Bosterville Road





Zip Code:



United States


She responded with the following:

From: To: Subject: RE: 1000$ Newly Renovated Condo — Chevy Chase‏‏‏‏‏‏‏ Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2010 12:59:20 +0000   I started the official procedure and eBay will notify you about this matter via email( please check your email address including your bulk/junk folder and let me know if it’s there….if you will not receive the email in 2 hours max please email me asap).You’ll also receive important guidelines plus instructions from them in 2 hours max(please go through them exactly). Now you must send them the money in 24 hours. I used before eBay and I used MoneyGram for the money transfer. I suppose that you’ll use the same service. If so, I can tell you two secrets about MoneyGram: 1. I filled my phone number on the transfer form and I can tell you that I’ve been called by them every day for comercial purposes until I had to change my phone number.After that I filled a wrong phone # on the form and resolved this issue(I changed my last digit of my phone number). 2. It’s better to tell to the MoneyGram agent that you send the money to a relative so the transfer will be approved in 10 min and you’ll have to pay 40-50$-MoneyGram fee(the transfers for friends or relatives are approved in 10 min, it’s cheaper…). If you tell them that you are sending the money to a comercial agent the transfer can take up to 20 hours until will be approved and maybe you’ll be unable to complete the transaction in time, they will also charge you with an extra fee of 70-80$(totaly about 130$).     Thank you!

The move to MoneyGram is on now that the ‘official procedure’ has begun. And, to cover the issues with a bogus phone number, items 1 and 2 above cover methods to get around the constant calls from MoneyGram after you do business with them as they will continuously call you. 


   Waiting two hours, I check my junk mail to see if the email from eBay had gotten hung up. Nothing there. I informed Jessica and she quickly responded:


RE: 1000$ Newly Renovated Condo — Chevy Chase‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏

Jessica Anderson (
Fri 7/23/10 4:32 PM

I just contacted eBay again….


I received the email and let Jessica know of the receipt:


From: To: Subject: RE: 1000$ Newly Renovated Condo — Chevy Chase‏‏‏‏‏‏‏ Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2010 13:21:05 +0000 Ok, please send the payment asap because eBay will charge me with a late payment fee of 19 pounds per day. Thx Jessica,


Now, I’m not real sure how eBay would charge them for a late fee for something of this type especially when they have nothing to do with it but the grift continues with pressure to complete the transaction playing on the fears that you may cost somebody something.


The email from eBay is as follows. Take a close read:

A common occurrence on Griftslist but one that still burns people who are gullible enough to buy into the con. An age old grift in a new format.