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As I was changing a headlight on the car last Friday, I noticed a small black car with two women in it slowly driving up and down the street.
Where I live one must be on the alert at all times.
There was a newspaper article over the weekend about a woman who was struck in the chest (not life-threatening) by a bullet fired during a gunfight in the street below her third floor apartment where she was apparently minding her own business.
This is a quote from the article: “The victim in Saturday’s New Year’s Eve shooting appears to be an innocent bystander, in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
In the wrong place at the wrong time?
I can only deduce from that statement that being in this city in the early twenty-first century is probably not a good idea. It also reinforces my opinion that this particular rag has only a few useful purposes and, as I own neither a parakeet nor a puppy and do not sell fish, I probably do not need to subscribe.
Anyway, I digress.
The women in the car eventually stopped and asked me if I knew anything about an apartment for rent in the house down the street. I told them I didn’t and they said thanks and were about to drive off when they said that they were asking because a friend of their’s had found it on Craigslist and was about to send her contact information to the landlord who was in…”
When I said “Africa”.
They asked me how I knew. I told them it was just a guess, explained about the type of scams that come from Africa and suggested that they should go and stop their friend before she got any further. They agreed that Africa sounded funny and thanked me and left.
Not ever being one to leave well enough alone, I finished the car and set sail for Craigslist.
It didn’t take long to find this:
$500 / 1br – 1BR/1BA Single Family Home (Xxxxxxxx, YY)
Date: 2011-12-22, 5:48PM EST
Reply to: email@example.com [Errors when replying to ads?]
LARGE, BRIGHT AND CLEAN DESCRIBES THIS FRESHLY PAINTED 4 ROOM APARTMENT WITH SHINNY HARDWOOD FLOORS AND OFFSTREET PARKING.THE PROPERTY HAS A LARGE YARD FORM TENANT USE. WALK TO BUS AND SHOPPING. ALL LOCATED ON A QUIET SAFE EAST SIDE XXXXXXXX AREA.69 Kkkkkkk Pppp
- cats are OK – purrr
- dogs are OK – wooof
- Location: Xxxxxxxx, YY
- it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
- Copyright © 2011 craigslist, inc.
- feedback forum
I know this house. I can hit it with a rock from my yard.
I also found the real advertisement for it on the Internet posted by a real estate/property management company.
The cats – purr, dogs – woof is a bit much, no?
This admonition from Craigslistis at the top of the ad.
“Avoid scams and fraud by dealing locally! Beware any arrangement involving Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, or a landlord/owner who is out of the country or cannot meet you in person.”
I wonder how many of the warning flags our future landlord will end up flying, I already know he’s in Africa. Africa is not very local.
First, I contacted Craigslist and the ad was gone within the hour.
Next, I replied to the ad merely asking if it was still available.
I got this back:
Subject: Re: $500 / 1br – 1BR/1BA Single Family Home (Xxxxxxxx, YY)
From: Stephen D Ford
Date Sent: 12/30/2011 5:07:17 PM
Thanks for your response and interest in our house.
The house is very much available and it is a large 1 bedrooms and 1 bathroom house. Which was formally occupied by me and my family before we left for Nigeria for a pastoral duty with the US-AID, we left for a volunteer mission together with other missionaries for a development program with the aim of developing the people of West Africa physically and spiritually as God as directed us. We wanted to sale the house initially but we later changed our mind after we discovered that we wouldn’t be spending more than 4 years here in Africa.
Well, it seems he’s sill in Africa, at least for the next four years at any rate.
Given my original question, “Is the house stil available?”, anything after the word available in his response is just flummery, and by flummery I mean flummery not flummery and it’s not often you see flummery five times in a single sentence, is it?
Presently my lovely wife and i are on the missionary field with US-AID. US-AID as u know works in agriculture, democracy & governance, economic growth, the environment,education, health, global partnerships, and humanitarian assistance in more than 100 countries to provide a better future for all..
I only wanted to know if the apartment was still available, I don’t really need to know the history of you and your lovely wife and did you leave your homely wife at home? And truth be told, I’ve never heard of US-AID, nor am I much interested in its history.
US-AID still faces an uncertain future. In many developing countries, HIV/AIDS and health issues are having a dramatic impact on social cohesiveness and economic strength, blocking the very development goals we seek. Virtually all the new democracies in the world today are fragile; others are democracies more in name than substance..
Did I not just say that I was not interested in the history of US-AID? I am, therefore, by extension, not interested in its history either.
Nor do I have any interest in your philosophic ramblings regarding democracy, I only asked if the apartment was available.
Nearly a quarter of the people living in developing countries, or about one billion people, live in absolute poverty.. There are a host of other threats – ranging from terrorism to infectious disease and violent conflict – that challenge us and the developing nations we seek to help. Here is US-AID Web address:-http://www.usaid.gov
Again, I must ask, what does this have to do with the availability of the alleged apartment?
US-AID efforts to foster world-wide economic growth and increased trade,and tackling cross-border issues such as the spread of HIV/AIDS and trafficking in persons.To safe the live of peoples from primitive death that claims the souls of younger ages as a result of casual sex gave us transfer to West Africaand we will be away for 5 years or more and this is why we are actually renting out house,so if you are interested and will take good care of our house then we will be ready to accept you as our future tenant and family friend.. If you really impress me by taking good care of our house then you will be allowed to stay as long as you wish.
Safe the lives of peoples from primitive death? How, by exposing them to more advanced death?
In the unlikely event that I was actually trying to rent this apartment, I don’t think that I would be planning an extended stay given the general trends written about in the local newspaper.
If you’re coming back in five years, where will you stay if I decide not to leave? This whole thing sounds fishy.
I think he must be boring himself with this drivel as well. He stated earlier he and the lovely missus would be gone less than four years, now it’s more than five. He obviously didn’t take good notes during the job interview.
This is the Address of the Single family house: 69 Kkkkkkk Pppp, Xxxxxxxx, YY
The house in question is a two family or duplex.
Official property, sales, and tax information from county (public) records as of 08/2010:
- Duplex (2 units, any combination)
- 4 Bedrooms
- 2 Bathrooms
- 1,353 sqft
- Lot Size: 0.33 acres
- Built In 1900
- Stories: 2 story with basement
- Heating: Steam
- Parking: Attached Garage
- 8 Rooms
- 2 Units
- Basement: Full Basement
So get back to me on how you could take care of our house or perhaps experience you have in renting home. Hope you are okay with the price of US$500/month and $500 for security deposit with hydro, heat laundry facilities, air condition and so on. PETS ARE WELCOME!
Oh, yay for PETS. Hydro? Where does he think this is? Five hundred is cheap, the real ad listed the place at eight or nine hundred.
I am looking forward to hear from you ASAP so that i can forward you an application to fill out and discuss on how to get the house , also are you ready to rent it now or when? Await your reply.
You can call me anytime at: (0112347026282089 or +2347026282089)
Note: the Rent is $500 and security deposit is $500
Total Move In Cost:$1,000
Thanks and God bless you
Pastor Mr Stephen D Ford
Still, I sent another email asking if I could see the place.
He sent me back the following response:
The Peace and blessing of the lord be with your household.
Thanks for the mail, It is good to hear from you with this detail.I want you to know that my house is ready for you to move in and i will not be showing you the interior parts of the house because I am already at the Gospel church here in Africa, i will need you to promise me that you will take good care of the house for us if you happen to move in as my tenant.The month rent is $500 and the security deposit is $500,The Utilities are all included.
Yes, I had come to understand that you were in Africa, although you said you were with US-AID, did that not work out? Is that why you are now with the Gospel church? Which, by the way, I also have no interest in hearing about.
I did not mean to imply that you should travel all the way here, to a country you most probably have never been to, to show me the interior of an apartment you know nothing about.
I apologize if you got that impression. It is customary however to allow prospective tenants access via a management company in order that they may see the overall condition prior to committing to a rental agreement.
I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE RENT APPLICATIONS FORM BELOW
I will want you to make arrangements for me to see the apartment first, so I guess we are deadlocked.
1)How old are you?…………………….. …………..
2)Are you married?……………
3)How many people will be living in the house?………..
4)Do you have children?………Ages…….. ..
5)Do you have a car?…………………….. …………..
6)Occupation?…………….. ………………………… ..
7)Monthly income…………………… ……………….
8)When will you like to move in?……………………
9)How long will you like to rent the property?………??
10)Reason for relocating……………….. ……………..
11)How long lease are you looking for……………….. ……………..
12)How soon do you intend moving in……………….. ……………..
13)Reason for relocation……………….. ……………..
The answer to thirteen would be very nearly the same as the answer to ten. Same applies to twelve and eight. And again for eleven and nine. He must be another ex-employee of the Department of Redundancy Department.
|Date of birth:||Cell:||Phone:|
|Own( ) Rent ( )||Monthly payment or rent:||How long?|
|Owned Rented (Please circle)||Monthly payment or rent:||How long?|
Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that i can have it in my file in case of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you.Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the keys to you,please I am giving you all this base on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words,you know that we do not see yet and only putting everything into Gods hand,so please do not let me down in this property and God bless you more as you do this. You can move in with your pet.
If I was to say that I was an athiest, would that void the false contract? Also, how did you find out about the cat?
Pastor Mr Stephen D Ford
If anyone has any old HTML books laying around, please donate them to an overseas book charity with outlets in Africa, it would make my life a lot easier.
The form displayed above was extracted from an email 280KB in size. The form didn’t look much different from the incarnation above which is closer to 3KB maybe. I didn’t really check.
The quality of HTML code from Africa is pathetic. Most of the emails are fifty to one hundred times larger that they need to be and I do mean times not percent.
Again, I digress.
I sent another email back explaining that I lived on the next street over and knew everybody that lived in that house for the past ten years. I told Rev. Ford I was having a hard time picturing him and his lovely wife.
I asked him if he was living there when the house across the street burnt down.
I asked him if he knew the Smiths.
He didn’t answer back.
I do not think his silence was prompted by the actual knowledge that the vacant lot across the street had never actually burnt down or by the fact that I have no idea who the hell the Smiths are either.
I think I may have tipped my hand. I have not heard from the Rev. Mr. Ford since. Oh, well.
Craigslist is a pretty useful place to buy and sell things, I have purchased things from people on Craigslist and not had any issues.
I have a car which I will try again to sell in the spring.
Once I list it, I will have a whole new crop of scam buyers to entertain you with.
They usually want to buy the car, sight unseen, for their boss’/boyfriend’s/etc’s. birthday or something, but are currently on a cruise ship in the South Pacific without their checkbook, so could they wire me all the money for the car, plus some extra for the delivery company, plus some more because they think I had the price too low.
Then, if is’s not too much trouble, could I wire the shipping fee to the shipping company so that they can come pick the car up later and take it to be wrapped.
Sadly, I have stopped aquaintances from doing this, so go figure. I had thought them relatively intellegent prior to that.
The thing I ever ask in return is that they stay home on election days. We’re in enough trouble already. No point in encouraging the inmates to take over the asylum.
Every posting on Craigslist has a disclaimer or two at the top, like the one in the ad above. Craigslist is aware of these scams and is trying to help.
If you use Craigslist, please read the disclaimers and act accordingly. Even then you’re still at some risk.
No one is likely to rent out an overseas apartment to people they know nothing about.
Wouldn’t you at least want to know that you weren’t renting to Charles Manson and his friends?
To sum up, Rev. Ford is a FRAUD.
He has no house to rent from Africa sight unseen to people he doesn’t know.
That is all.