Victim Location 90005
Total money lost $40
Type of a scam Rental
I found a listing for a 1bed/1bath condo by Robert. I reached out via Craigslist to see if the unit was still available as it was listed with an open house earlier that afternoon. He contacted me, said it was available, sent me pictures of the inside of the unit, invited me to drive by the building to see the building and the neighborhood, and complete an application if I like it. He said I would see the unit once the application and background/credit check process was completed; said he wanted to make sure the arrangement was legitimate because people have been interested with bad intentions. I saw the building and the unit was visible from the street and the open windows. From the view, it looked just as presented in the photos he sent me. I completed the application ($40 fee) and was told that I was chosen from all of the applicants because his ‘wife prefers a woman tenant as they are cleaner than male tenants’ and she was concerned that her home would be well-cared for. He explained that I would see the unit with an ‘intermediary’ as he and his family had already relocated from Los Angeles to Houston for his job, but he would try to schedule to come in to show me the unit himself. After this series of conversations, he fell out of communication and apologized, letting me know he was ‘on retreat’ with no phones and just back in town. I asked repeatedly when I could see the unit and he responded with surprise that I hadn’t yet been contacted. He said he would call and conference me in. I asked for a direct number. He said he was told I had been contacted and not responded. I stated that no one left a message for me, so as a professional, if there is no voice mail left, the call did not occur. He agreed to give me the number for the "intermediary" Nichole Swigart. 2 days earlier I found her eMail on the lease and reached out, and had not yet received a response. I called the phone number and found it to be a voicemail service. No specialized message was programmed so I knew without question what had been my fear for a few weeks – that this was a complete scam. She returned my call the next day and responded to the eMail I sent 2 days prior. Through a series of eMail exchanges, she insisted that I need to pay the refundable deposit ($1000) and then she would fly down from San Jose to show me the unit, and that if I was at all displeased, of course I could just refund the money. She assured me I should "be calm" and this is the way the arrangement must occur. She explained the voicemail without an actual message as what she uses because she travels a lot and is away from the office, but that it is definitely her direct number. In true form, now that I have not yet sent the money, she is responding in disjointed fashion urging the funds be sent, and Robert is now responding to two requests I have made to speak with his wife. There is exactly NOTHING about this intended transaction that is legitimate.
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