Sunday, July 12, 2020

Birmingham, AL: COVID-19 Unfolding #888: House Hunters 2: The Scam

For rent. Carrizozo, New Mexico. November 2012.

In perusing rental listings for my new place, I encountered a tantalizing offer in a central neighborhood. The posted rent - $550 - seemed too good to be true .......... yeah, a flag (see House Hunters 1).

You can see links here (I'm including several in case one or more goes bad):

  • Apartments dot com here.
  • Apartmentfinder dot com here.

Nevertheless, I shot out an inquiry to see if the inevitable "....but" was something I could live with.

About a week later, I received this:

Thank you for your interest in my apartment and sorry for my late response (I hope you are still looking for a home).
First of all I must tell you that I own the place and it's not a sublease. I imagine you searched several apartments so let me refresh your memory, mine it's located on 2717 Highland Ave S in Birmingham, it is a 1 bed, 1 bath, 855 sq. ft. apartment, parking and utilities included - $550.00 monthly rent for the entire place, available as we speak (a full description and all the photos can be seen on the website of the listing company, you can find it bellow in his original email).
My full name is Jenifer Erenner, you can call me Jen. I own several properties in the US and abroad. I'm a retired stockbroker by the way so money is not the issue here, I'm just looking for a serious tenant that will take care of the place so can you please tell me a few things about you and your way of life.
Anyway, check the attached photos and if you're good to go, just send me a reply and I will explain the rental process.

Thank you for your time,

I walked over to Google to see what might come up for Jenifer Erenner ("you can call me Jen").

Mmm hmmm.

Given the ubiquity of Erenner's name on long- and short-term rental sites, along with her (if there is a "her") accomplices, you'd think big data websites like apartments dot com, apartmentfinder dot com, and airbnb ("we take your security very seriously") would flex a little of their mighty muscles and rout the obvious scammers out.

I sincerely hope there is not a true Jenifer Erenner out there whose identity has been stolen.

There's likely at least one person reading this who is saying they'd never fall for such an obvious scheme. Don't you ever watch Survivor?

Smart people and "highly educated" people get taken in all the time. Especially in fraught times such as COVID.

Me, too.

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