Rental Scam Victim

This scam victim sent me her story, and says:

“Hi, my name is xxxxxx and I originated from Jakarta. I am a victim of a scam through this site on NY apartment sublets in craiglist.com.

I am happy to share my story online and hope that it will help others.

Please spread the word around. Thank you.”

This victim answered an advert on Craigs List.  Her email to Craigs List, reporting the scam, sums up what happened to her:

In May I found this contact through your website, in hope for a sublet in New York. We exchanged a few emails  I even called him previously from overseas. He seemed genuine  with great American english, no spelling mistakes and seems to know what is he talking about. The next time I called it was a mailbox of the agency and the featured apartments, so I thought that must be real!  I was far and I wanted something secure when I arrive in New York so I sent the money from overseas amounting $ 2,500 via Western Union (despite I read about your policy!) and he still emailed me back even the day I was about to leave for New York and made everything seemed real.

When I got to JFK I called him and the phone number has been disconnected since. The webpage is still working, however, I haven’t seen it being advertised in craiglist recently.
Okay this guy name is Stan Hense. He must be a professional scammer. When I called previously he even mentioned that the apartment is close to a bike rental, gave me phone number to the place and all. The only missing detail was when I asked him the number of the apartment, which he always avoid to mention, unless I make the payment.
The email is stanhense@gmail.com. The web page he was using is http://luxuriousroomsinnyc.webs.com/apps/photos/ or http://luxuriousroomsinnyc.webs.com/
Please notice at the end when I made payments he changed his name to Salvador Llano. The phone number he was using 347 244 8494
When I arrived in NY I called and neither the name or the phone number was listed. But I noticed he had put up a Pay pal account in the website recently. Below I have attached  our email communications for anyone who wants to read it.
Please, this guy must be stopped. I have lost $2,500 of my money, I suffered from stress and fatigue from waiting for him and on top of that I had to stay in a very expensive hotel as repercussion of the ‘fake’ mentality thinking somehow he was going to show up. I would like to pass the word around so that someone else doesn’t have to experience this in New York.”
I wont reproduce all the emails here.  The victim is right when she says that the scammer speaks good English – many of his emails are friendly and convincing.  Part way through the correspondence his tone changed when the victim asked if she could pay in cash when she arrived in NY, rather than paying the full amount in advance.  At this point, I think the victim started to wonder if maybe things weren’t right.  She forwarded the scammers email to a friend.  Her friend spotted that there was something odd and replied with a warning:
He is getting pissed for sure…lol. What is he? a broker or owner of the apartment? Why can’t he gave you the exact address? sniff..sniff sounds fishy to me

It is not rude to request references from previous customer provided he asked customer’s permission in advance. He sounded genuine (not money scam), but I sensed that he is not telling the whole story in truth (there is a little bit of rushing on his behalf, placing you a pressure to commit). Perhaps there is something wrong with the room (quality for example, perhaps the furniture/building is old, etc).
I don’t think there is any safety issue if you use third party money check (such as USPS money order ref to my other email).  the problem is any third party payment will not protect you for getting it stolen. If you pay credit or paypal the recipient will be force to verify bank account where that money will reside. Another word they can trace the money and get it back for you. They are just like escrow and it is free/cheap one for small nominal fee the impose. I would be cautious placing downpayment without contract, safety from thrid party/escrow, or understand what I am getting.
I don’t know how to advise you on this because I never rent apartment this way. I always go directly to inspect or get someone I know/trusted refernce about the place if I can’t go myself. Why don’t you ask someone from school to help you out or ask school to recommend you place to stay? I don’t understand why do you have to look around yourself. Typical school would at least recommend foreign student coming abroad a safe place to stay.
Cost is one thing remember this is New York anything can happen to a single girl like you there. I would put safety first as priority and pay a more (Be sure first than sorry later)
In my opinion, approx $46/day for manhattan fully furnished apartment in nice neighborhood street (I googled earth the street) is suspiciously too good too be true. The cheapest extenday stay hotel cost more than that anywhere in continental US. Even parking in manhattan is already cost like $30+/day. The daily upkeep cost and tax itself for the apartment probably is already exceeding the $46 amount…
Be careful of what you are getting into….stay away on this one…my two cents your choice”
Sadly, the victim didn’t take her friend’s warning and went ahead and sent the money to the scammer.  The scammer was happy to continue talking to her on the phone – until she arrived at the airport in New York, when miraculously he disappeared.
That must have been a really frightening experience – arriving in a strange city, on your own, only to find that there is no-one to meet you and you have nowhere to stay.


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