Warning for Travelers: Apartment Scam

Ugh, this is so frustrating. Just found out that friends who are planning to visit New York next week became victims of this apartment rental scam courtesy of... you guessed it... the callous minds of Nigerian scammers. Or at least that's what someone figured out who was almost scammed last week as well.

The scam has been going on for years, but the contact person, apartment address and contact phone numbers keep changing.

The scam involves an offer of an apartment for short-term vacation rental in NYC (or Washington D.C., as I just read about) via a website like Craig's List or even more official vacation rental websites. All the paper work offered looks very legitimate - you can even call the person and talk to them.

Then you're asked to send a deposit via MoneyGram, in itself a regular company (which actually warns against sending money to strangers) to ensure that a key will be left for you with the doorman. Once you send the money, you never hear from the person again.

There's a blog post with very extensive commentaries and lists of all the different identities and numbers used here: http://ohdannyboy.blogspot.com/2007/09/new-york-scam-serious-warning-for-all.html

It's too bad that the number and name that were used to scam my friends wasn't listed until the day they lost their money, because when they googled the details they'd been given, they didn't find any links to a scam.

So in case that name, number, address, reference are still being used by the scammer, I'm listing the email with all details below in hope anyone else about to fall for this intricate scam will realize in time that it's fraud.

> Danny Baldwin
>
>
>
> Floor Area:
> * 900 sq ft
> Address:
> * 245 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017, USA
> Theme:
> * family
> * luxury/Vacation
> * business/shopping
> General:
> * towels provided
> * air-conditioning
> * central heating
> * telephone
> * linens provided
> * Washing Machine and Dryer
>
> Notes: THIS FLAT IS LOCATED ON THE TENTH FLOOR. THE BUILDING HAS TWO
> ELEVATOR BANKS AND ONE OF THE ELEVATORS WILL DROP YOU IN FRONT OF
> THE FLAT...
>
> The remaining 50% of the rent will be paid when u arrive to the
> Apartment and also the security deposit will be refunded in cash
> when leaving the apartment..
> Get back to me asap if you`d love to Book.. So I can send you the
> Booking Agreement form, and make the Payment to secure this
> Wonderful Apartment for your dates before someone else does...
>
>
> More Photos attached and I`m providing you a Contact info of my past
> Tenants from UK, USA and FRANCE....
>
> 1) DR. Bill Palmer and parents
> St. James, Westminster.
> billpalmer45@gmail.com
> +447024080616
>
> 2) MR and MRS Tom Edward and kids
> Paris, France
> tomed48@gmail.com
>
> 3) Mr Hagman Buckle and friends stayed 2weeks
> Houston, TX
> hagmanbuck45@gmail.com
> +1 7137807265
>
>
> DECIDE AND GET BACK TO ME ASAP..
>
> DANNY. C. BALDWIN
> +1 206-3504484
> 1918 Bronxdale Ave, Bronx, NY 10462

And if you have fallen victim of such a scam, you may enjoy listening to the segment "Hanging in Chad" of This American Life's episode "Enforcers", which tells the story of several scam baiters exercising their revenge on scammers by conning them. Those conning the con artists have a forum HERE if you want to follow their exploits further.