moving: Spam, Spam, Baked Beans…

I really thought I was done with the series of moving-related spam posts this week* but clearly not. But it’s Friday, so let’s lighten the mood first off:

Salsus told me that I’d mentioned spam far too often not to include baked beans, so there you are with the whole sketch to boot.

I’ll try to save up the next few moving posts for a while as my frustration’s just been growing and growing. Even though the phrases “too good to be true” and TANSTAAFL are among my more frequently-used, I am a man in need of an apartment. Not desperate yet, but getting there. Even so, when I saw a few ads that seemed sketchy, I responded and used an alternate e-mail address just in case. gmail’s been pretty good lately about catching spam, but you never know. Since I haven’t been getting any responses back lately, I wasn’t expecting too much, but I sent off an inquiry, a little bit about my current situation and please reply, etc.

Last night while I was neck-deep in unlabeled DVDs, labeling and sorting them, I got a response! I couldn’t really move at the time lest I send stacks of DVDs all over the floor, so I let it sit for a while. Here’s the message I got…

Hi Brian,

polaroid style image of craigslist rental ads

   Thank you for your interest. The apartment located at Avalon at Gallery Place, 770 5th Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 living room and 1 kitchen (1044 square ft.) is available, because I have moved to the Greece, Athens, with my job. That’s the reason I want to rent it at this price, and find a good person to take care of it.

   I’m the owner of the apartment and I’m looking forward to rent it as soon as possible, because my company has won the auction for a project, in construction, for a building that will rise up in Athens, Greece. I’m a civil engineer, so my accommodation period in Athens, will be about 5 years. The contract will be signed for the period of time that you need, with the possibility of renewing it for 5 years the most.

   The apartment is furnished, like in the photos and you can feel free to move it wherever you like. If you have your own furniture, I will take mine away, so don’t worry because I have the option of sending all my furniture into storage.

   The rent for 1 month is $1,400.00 (for the whole apartment and I just want to find the proper tenant, someone who will treat and care my apartment likes it was his own) including all utilities (water, electricity, Internet, cable, 2 parking spots, air conditioning, washer / dryer in unit, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator). You can move in the apt in the same day you receive the keys with the rental contract.

   The only problem is that I’m the only person who has the keys but I hope that we will find a solution.

   PS: This is a cat and dog-friendly building (no weight limit).

Thank you for your interest and awaiting your reply,

It sounded fishy, but I was a little enthusiastic because it mirrored my current situation, except my landlord stayed in DC long enough to settle the apartment stuff before leaving. Even so, I looked around online for craigslist apartment scams. This didn’t match any posted patterns, but the more I re-read it, the less sense it made.

If you’re already in Greece and you have the only key, how are you going to arrange to have items put into storage? There was no mention of a property manager, application, credit check, references, nada. They used a service called vFlyer to create a very snazzy graphical flyer (example) advertising the apartment, but the wording in the flyer and ad was identical to that on the Avalon’s website. And after checking their site out, I did find the apartment and floor plan to which she referred, but at the listed price she’d have to be an utter moron to offer it so low. Even if that too had echoes of my own situation.** Unfortunately my time on the internet–and in the office–has caused me to ignore and/or forgive the occasional or frequent mistake in spelling and grammar.***

But the final “no” vote wasn’t even delivered by me. A few minutes after re-reading the message, I heard the “new mail” notification sound and saw another identical response to an apartment inquiry. Only this time the guy had already moved to “United Kingdom, London” but he was also a civil engineer working on a new building project that would take 5 years! What are the odds!? The irony of it is since both scammers were using the craigslist gateway to respond to inquiries, the following header was automatically added to their outgoing messages:

craigslist e-mail header advising the recipient to beware of scams

I reserve comment on craigslist recommending both these scammers as trusted sellers–well played &! But honestly, is there any good resource for finding apartments anymore? It seems that craigslist is nothing more than a minefield of spam & scams and isn’t doing anything to stop it beyond community policing. And let me tell you, after refreshing the apartment listings page and flagging the first 15 ads–out of maybe 18 new ones–as spam, you get a little weary of bothering anymore. Even with a bunch of people checking the listings at the same time, the tireless automated spammers are always going to win.

I ended the evening killing irradiated zombies to work out my frustrations. I believe that I am long overdue for a happy hour… TGIF, y’all! 🙄

* I say this week because I figured that I would encounter more during the moving/apartment hunting process, just not as frequently.

** When I was looking at my current place, the landlord said he was offering it at a reduced rent because he wanted a tenant that would stay for a while.†

*** It is seriously time that someone actually developed the Pluperfect/Strunkenwhite Virus. It would take YouTube comments, MySpace pages and a good number of scam sites off the web within minutes.

† Don’t it just figure that the real events of my life resemble what would later become scams? I’m like a muse for scammers!

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4 Responses

  1. Fredo says:

    Wouldn’t it just be easier for CL to own up to the nonsense that goes on there and say, “Avoiding scams? Just avoid our site altogether.”

    I’ve fallen more and more out of love with CL over the last couple of years.
    .-= latest entry: The Road to 170-ish: Milestone 199.5 =-.

  2. Lindsay says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that this is going so poorly. What’s odd (mirroring your situation again) is that the best apartment of my life, I got through Craigslist in a similar way. Cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra needs someone for a six-month sublet while he’s on sabbatical in Eastern Europe, who won’t care about the faint odor of cat pee in his hardwood floors. I met him for coffee, he liked the looks of me, and everything was perfect. But I think this is an oddly isolated case. Sounds to me like Fredo’s got the right idea.

  3. Chris says:

    Are there still apartment rental agencies? I think that while on-line apartment hunting is convenient (you can do it naked, from your own apartment) it’s a lot less fruitful.

    Spread the word among your friends, workmates, acquaintances and the like that you are apartment-hunting. Find a reputable agency and look at their listings. Forget about Craigslist–it’s only good for sex-for-money. Good luck!

  4. Meagan says:

    It’s too bad that there is so much dishonesty out there. Scams, spam, and other horrid internet realities plague us all, and it is such a shame. I agree that you should try to avoid Craigslist and try something a little more “official” or like Chris said, talk to friends, coworkers, etc. Or try That’s how I found a few of my apartments. Good luck to you.
    Peace and Love,
    .-= latest entry: "Real Job" =-.

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