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Martin TdP
El fruto de 13,9 miles de millones de años de evolucion cosmica.
El fruto de 13,9 miles de millones de años de evolucion cosmica.

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Fun with scammers

So this morning a rental house listing caught my eye, then my wife pointed the same out out to me. My immediate thought was that it sounded too good to be true. It was just outside of the neighborhood we wanted and at least 2x as large as what we were looking for, for almost the same price we're paying now. I used the built in function on the site to contact the person who listed it asking if it was still available.

Before long I received a reply directly from JOHN* (*not the real name he used) saying that it was available and that he had been planning on selling his house but after a bad experience with a realtor he and his wife had decided to rent the house out instead. He said that the listed price was correct, but I should note that all utilities were included in that cost and that he and his wife really just wanted "a God fearing family" to take over their house and make it their own. And it was vacant and able to be moved into right now. Again, this was feeling too good to be true but thought maybe I was just skeptical. What did strike me as weird was that he made comment about requirements from a renter.

Now JOHN had a unique name so I googled him and turns out he's kind of famous in his own right so I quickly saw lots of photos of him and confirmed he did in fact live in Los Angeles. I should also note that the email had a handful of misspellings, but the bios I found for JOHN online confirm (as his name suggests) that English wouldn't be his first language, but it still was noteworthy since I already thought something was odd about this.

I wrote back again saying that sounded wonderful and asked if I could come see the house today. I also explained our current situation and wanted to make sure we wouldn't have to move anytime soon should this work out - we want to stay in the next house we move into for many years.

His next reply is when I knew something was amis for sure. He stated that he wasn't in town, that he and his wife had moved to Texas but that I was welcome to drive by and see the house from the outside. If was interested he would send me over a credit application, and if all went well would do the lease signing by mail and send me the keys in the next few days. He ended the email with some "God blesses." I seriously doubted this was legit at this point but decided to drive by anyway.

As I pulled up to the house I was instantly struck by how not-vacant it was. Cars were parked out front. People were in the living room. And there is a for sale sign in the yard. I parked and walked up, instantly recognizing the man standing next to the window as JOHN.

"You're John right?"

"yes, who are you?"

"I'm Sean, we need to talk..."

I explained to him what was happening, and that someone was representing themselves as him - even down to having an email with his name in it. He confirmed that the house was not for rent, hadn't been emailing with me, and was obviously very concerned about the situation. I showed him the listing and all the photos of his house, which were actually photos of his house - perhaps from the sale listing. I forwarded him the correspondence and he left a panic'd voice mail for his realtor and then I apologized for interrupting him and left. 

I thought about this scammer in Texas (or claiming to be in Texas) and how he probably has no idea the house isn't vacant and is likely doing this for lots of other listings. I think the initial reference to "God fearing" is what made me think the thing is fake, in all my years on the internet and the scams I've come across, the constant theme running through so many of them is refer to God. I guess scammers feel that religious people are gullible and can easily be convinced not to pay any attention to the little man behind the curtain. I thought about how many people might have driven by this house at some other time when people weren't there and then sent FAKEJOHN credit applications with all their info.

I was thinking about all this when I received an email notification from FAKEJOHN asking "Did you got my last email to you?"

And then it occurred to me - he doesn't know I know he's a fake, I can tell him anything I want and he'll go for it because he still thinks I'm a prospective mark. Oh man, this is where it gets fun...

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WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Do NOT take it literally.

CONTENT ADVISORY: Contains verses descriptive or advocating suicide, incest, bestiality, sadomasochism, sexual activity in a violent context, murder, morbid violence, use of drugs or alcohol, homosexuality, voyeurism, revenge, undermining of authority figures, lawlessness, and human rights violations and atrocities.

EXPOSURE WARNING: Exposure to contents for extended periods of time or during formative years in children may cause delusions, hallucinations, decreased cognitive and objective reasoning abilities, and, in extreme cases, pathological disorders, hatred, bigotry, and violence including, but not limited to fanaticism, murder, and genocide.
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