Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rental Fraud on Craigslist

As you know, I will be moving to Sweden this fall, thus I am presently looking for a new apartment in Stockholm. Next to browsing advertisements, I thought it a good idea to post a note myself asking for offers to be sent to me. While I know my way around with moving, I hadn't tried posting an ad before, and so used the first site that came up in a Google search called "Craigslist". Within a week, I had at least 10 offers, all of which made me feel uneasy for different reasons. By now I've convinced myself they are all scams. The following report might not be so interesting for our frequent readers, but I want to share my (depressing) experience here with some useful links to online repositories dedicated to scam busting for those random visitors who might ask themselves the same questions.

It started with this email:
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "matilda amanda" matilda.amanda@googlemail.com
    To: "Sabine Hossenfelder" sabina@perimeterinstitute.ca
    Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 4:42 PM
    Subject: Re: SEK10000 Looking for Apt Sep 1st 2009 (Stockholm),Reply

    Hi,thanks for your response to my advert.The apartment is a lovely one
    for rent in Stockholm.The apartment has 2 nice rooms and kitchen,it
    also has a living room and 2 bathrooms.The whole apartment is 10000SEK
    with deposit of
    8000SEK.It is in Gotgatan 130 Stockholm 118 26 Sweden.The apartment
    has the following facilities:Wireless internet
    facilities,Phone,Microwave,washing
    machine,Dryer,Refrigerator,bathroom, toilet, lounge/living room,
    kitchen, utility room, front and rear garden you rent it from me fully
    furnished..I will be planning my wedding this summer so wont be back
    to Stockholm about December so you can rent until then..

    My number to call is +447031899713


To be honest, I hadn't spent any thought on potential rental fraud before I posted my ad. This email however seemed odd to me immediately because unlike what "she" wrote, I had not replied to her ad, but she to mine. However, I wrote back that I wouldn't be interested in a temporary place until December, and thus the offer wouldn't work for me. In reply I was then assured the apartment would be available for at least 18 months, no problem. I found this change weird, but asked to arrange for a date to visit, upon which "Matilda" said I would have to send money to make a "reservation". I replied
    "If you mean with 'reservation' I'm supposed to blindly send money to somebody who just happens to have sent me an email, you'll have to look for somebody more stupid. For all I know you might not even own the place. Best -Sabine"

And that was that. Not exactly the most polite thing to do, I know. I immediately felt bad about it. The next email was the following

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Ronald Kegan" startkick1@ymail.com
    To: "Sabine Hossenfelder" sabina@perimeterinstitute.ca
    Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 5:34 PM
    Subject: 1 bedroom apartment for rent in Stockholm

    Hi,

    I work as Volunteer with a Non Governmental Organization in West Africa,Nigeria.The apartment will cost 4000 SEK per month including utilities.A 55sqm apartment which has just been refurnished,and situated in a very safe area ideal for families.

    The fully equipped, separated kitchen is brand-new and has all kinds of kitchen implements that you may need.The  bathroom is fully equipped with a bath tub, shower, wash basin, bidet and toilet.For your safety the apartment is also equipped with a reinforced door and a safe box, where you can store all your valuables.

    A perfect place to stay for anyone interested in good food, night life and sightseeing.The apartment also has WI-FI  Internet service,telephone service, electric oven, microwave, washing machine, refrigerator and a spacious parking garage.

    Regards,
    Ronald.


Which I found also odd, though for other reaons. Why would I care whether that person is in Nigeria? Another "offer" for a two-bedroom apartment came from somebody who called himself "Tommy Heart" with an immediate request for a deposit. When I wrote back - politely and sanely as I thought - I of course wouldn't send money to anybody without having seen the place I got the following reply
    From: "heart tommy" toheart101@gmail.com
    To: "Sabine Hossenfelder" sabina@perimeterinstitute.ca
    Sent: Sunday, May 17, 2009 9:28 AM
    Subject: Re: SEK10000 Looking for Apt Sep 1st 2009.. YOU GOT ONE ..

    what i'm try to let you know is that many are interseted in the
    apartment ok just for you make arrangement with my lawyer cos he will
    meet you,meanwhile you can make aprovision of paying some amount of
    money but you will just show me the reciept for ment then we will now
    book a date for visit ok with out  that you can get your own house
    else wear ok bye

                      tommy

To which I replied with ok, bye. After all, if so many people are interested in the place, why did you bother writing to me to begin with? I got a couple of more emails of that sort which I will spare you, all in a very similar tone. Usually in a bad English, with tiny photos attached that I suspect are downloaded elsewhere, with an explanation of some sort for why one is not in town. It follows fast a request to send money, with some indication of having made bad experiences. There seems to be lot of people on some mission in Nigeria, or planning a wedding. For example this person

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Leyla Pursharifi" leylanijo@googlemail.com
    To: "Sabine Hossenfelder" sabina@perimeterinstitute.ca
    Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 6:59 AM 
    Subject: Pictures of Apartment in (Stockholm) 

    Dear Sabine,

    Good Afternoon,thanks for the prompt in response.My apartment is Located
    at [...]

    The pictures are attached with this mail so that you can see if you
    like it or not. We can also chat on MSN on minemine4youall@hotmail.com

    If you are okay to proceed then do send me your details for the
    contract ,the details are below.

    Your name
    Your address
    Move in date and move out date
    A scan copy of your ID

    I am in Italy now Planning a wedding ceremony.

    I am an easy going lady,i am 25 Years.i am Single.i like meeting
    people,i like traveling.My profession is Wedding Planner under Event
    Manager.

    Feel free to ask me any question if you have got any.I like to know
    more about you too.

    I will send my picture in the next mail.Thanks i await for your response.

    Best Regards,
    Leyla


(I left out some irrelevant details.) I checked all the street addresses, they do exist. However, at this point I had gotten very suspicious of all these offers and I did a Google search for "Craigslist Rental Fraud" which turned up more than 200,000 results! Apparently rental fraud has taken off within the last year. There are lots of reports from people who got cheated on either when replying to a posted ad, or when getting offers after posting an ad. I read a lot of sad stories, many of which started with an email like the ones I received. Searching Wordpress for the tag Craiglist Scam also give you a sense of what's going on.

I deleted my ad from Craigslist to avoid getting more of these emails. After some searching, I found the following very useful websites that list a lot of examples, as well as names, email addresses and phone numbers that are being used for the scams. Most notably there is a blog called Here be Dragons. On this list for example there appears "Matilda's" phone number as well as the "easygoing wedding planner" in an email with exactly the same wording that I got, just that her name is "Angelique" instead of "Leyla" and the alleged apartment in Geneva instead of Stockholm. Another useful repository is a blog called Let's Get the Craigslist Scammers. The story with the mission worker in West Africa seems to be particularly common.

I also found out that a lot of the scams come from Nigeria. Thus, I checked on the IP address of the only offer left that didn't reproduce any of these known stories. A person claiming to be "Ruth Star" living in the UK who has to go and ask her dad for advice after every mail (since I annoyingly keep refusing to send money). In contrast to all the other emails, the English is okay in this case. Turns out however the sender's IP address is located in, guess what, Nigeria. Amazingly enough, she sent me a photo of a British passport (allegedly her dad's) which makes me wonder whose passport this might have been. The photo isn't particularly good though, it's hard to tell whether the name has been edited or not, but the background looks quite authentic.

Anyway, though luckily I didn't send money to any of these scammers and all I've lost is time, the sheer abundance in which these scams are apparently tried depressed me quite a lot. What makes people try to earn their living by ripping off others?

Meanwhile, I am still looking for an apartment in Stockholm. If you happen to know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody... please send me a note.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sabine,
try links on this site:
http://home.swipnet.se/~w-72891/CanadianClub/CCsales/sthlmlinks2.html

BR,
Alexei

Dugdale said...

I created a rental scam detection tool if anyone is interest in seeing if they are getting scammed.
http://www.pickrent.com/stuff/scamquiz.cfm

Dave Dugdale

Anonymous said...

Hi Bee,
why use an official mail id on an advertisement? I can only presume that your employer's policies permit that and you wanted to show your authenticity in the ad...

~
Sojourner

Bee said...

? It didn't cross my mind anybody could have a problem with that. It's just the email address I currently use. I have several others but they are all forwarded to this, so what's the point.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you can find photos of British passports on the internet.

Peter

Bee said...

The only ones I could find had some marker in the middle rendering them useless. I didn't search too hard though.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Ah, that German naivety... :) (Is it in our favourite list of typical German qualities? :) ) The real world is based on explicitly fraudulent, dishonest actions! I thought that working as professional scientist, you should know it rather well...

As to apartment search, Sabine, honestly, why not charging your new hosts with it or at least asking their information help, etc. (hey, hosts of the world, you should take care of it yourself!). Experience shows convincingly that, with such issues, even among honest sources it's much better to rely upon information and help from somebody "like you", with similar level of demands, etc. Because different people may send you very honestly to something they think OK but you'll think horrible. People are so different, you know... Or else, look for some professional (massive) apartment/house owners on the internet (or ask locals about it)...

“What makes people try to earn their living by ripping off others?”

Yeah, that's true, we Germans could never understand it :) . Or take this, what makes people try, very persistently, to earn their living by doing absolutely fruitless and useless “research”, without any progress? I really don't understand. And because such kind of research dominates everywhere on this planet, I should be a typical ET, with such worries.

Never mind, good chance with your new lodging and new life there (and don't forget to satisfy our curiosity about your progress). Studying Swedish already, ah? We know your typically German love of perfection! :)

It also leads me to a “philosophic” conclusion: all in all, one still cannot avoid relying more on humans than on machines, even though neither is reliable :) ...

Uncle Al said...

1) University Housing Office
2) Local Chamber of Commerce.
3) Local real estate brokers.

"Fermionic physicist requires unitary and unentangled lodging. AdS/CFT spaces a plus. Allergic to Storsjöodjuret."

The Quirked Eyebrow said...

Thanks for mentioning our blog, Here Be Dragons ~ every bit helps. (And I've added the info from your post.)

Knowing how they glean names from the 'net to alter for their endless supply, I do, however, suggest to people that they leave their email addresses 'out in the open' as little as possible. Just as an FYI, y'know?

Good luck home hunting!

Bee said...

Hi Andrei:

I think you have a pretty cynical and also quite incorrect worldview. Possibly you live in a different world than I do, but the one I live in is in fact based on trust to an astonishingly large degree. It is for this reason that frauds like this who erode this trust trouble me substantially. Our world just can't work without trust, and as far as I am concerned, establishing and supporting it should be one of our top priorities. With that I don't only mean mutual trust, but also trust in the functionality of the systems that govern our lives. That's somewhat off-topic but I guess you recognize the theme.


Hi Eyebrow,

Thanks. This email address is kind of my public address anyway. You can easily find it out in a dozen different ways. Since I have some private email accounts too, and will use this one only for some more months, I found it not really a big issue. (I've twisted a letter anyway.)

Best,

B.

Arun said...

Hi Bee,

A good place to get some rental advice would be the office that deals with incoming foreign graduate students at a university. Of course, I had only one experience with such, and maybe it was exceptional.

Best,
-Arun

Anonymous said...

Fraud?!?!!!
on the internet?!!!!!
what has this world come to?

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

Although I agree with you that Andrei is being cynical, I must say that I think that this time he has a point here.

When I read your post, I could not believe that you were trying to find your new home through an internet search. Such things are quite unreliable in the internet. I would instead directly contact your new employer for directions and tips.

"(...)the one I live in is in fact based on trust to an astonishingly large degree"

That is very good for you, but the world in general is not like that. My opinion.

"Our world just can't work without trust"

Unfortunately, it does. It is survival of the fittest and generally does not have much to do with trust, unless in certain instances.

I have daily examples of lack of trust. But I'm not willing to give details.

It would be very good to reach a point where we could trust "in the functionality of the systems that govern our lives", however I do believe that most part of the world is *not* at that stage. Take care.

Best,
Christine

Giotis said...

Bee, I have the impression that you didn't really want to find a house through the Internet. You just *had* to try that option too. That's why as I see from the side bar you are using every single social network and option the net can offer. You can't help it. You have to try everything otherwise you feel that you've missed an opportunity or that you are left behind . Am I right?

Bee said...

Hi Anonymous,

I wouldn't have been surprised to get one or the other reply trying to rip me off, but I was surprised by the sheer amount of independently sent, but pretty much indistinguishable emails and, after doing some Googling, the abundance of such attempts. You can find that naive but if fraud has become the rule rather than the exception there is something seriously wrong with the legal system. Your sarcasm isn't going to change anything about that. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

Andrei had a point with exactly what? Of course first thing I did was ask my future employer. That however wasn't so particularly helpful (neither was my present employer on that matter some years ago btw). I also looked at some ads. That also wasn't so particularly helpful, mostly because I don't speak Swedish. Most likely I will just take a trip and look into local newspapers which is what I have done with my previous moves, I just thought it would be worth a try. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

Well, you are mostly right. I can help it though :-) In that case I just honestly didn't expect it to be SO useless, otherwise I wouldn't have tried. Best,

B.

Xoron said...

Bee, constructive advice: it's probably not a good idea to put up email addys etc. from business dealings (legit or questionable) on a public web page, for various reasons. Not only do many people have implicit understanding their info won't be used, but AFAIK bots can still skim the addresses from web pages.

Bee said...

Hi Xoron,

Thanks for the advice. I am aware of the issue. As I said above however, this email address is pretty much my 'public' one, and I'll only be using it for a couple more months anyway. You'll find it in at least a dozen places, including PI's website, my various websites, and this blog on several posts. Since I do want people to be able to contact me easily concerning my work, this is pretty much inevitable. If PI has a policy on the use of our email addresses, I am blissfully unaware of it, but then it's not like I advertised a scientifically approved method for energy extraction from the vacuum or something. Best,

B.

Arun said...

I advertised a scientifically approved method for energy extraction from the vacuum or something.I want one of those. Maybe someone on Craigslist has one?

:)

babajidesalu said...

Hello,

I got hold of this link from Google through Nigeria Alert News.

Let me start by apologising unbehalf of Nigeria and hard working Nigerians all over the world.

You can check me out through my website. I am a proud African of Nigerian heritage.

The SCAM issue has being an issue that the Nigerian government are working very hard to deal with. I live in Nigeria and I must confess that I had received a few from a site I had subscribed to. After several complaints to the site to 'beef' up their security, I chose to discontinue to have anything with the site.

You will agree with me that as the problem is internet related it would take a lot of effort by the site owners to prevent spams and scams through the net.

I am not and will not condone SCAMS from Nigeria, however, as Nigeria, the largest Black nation on earth has acquired a reputation as a nation of 'scammers', I am writing to disabuse your mind of this claim.

Not every scam emanates from Africa or Nigeria. Nigeria needs help with its development, infrastructure and reputation and I can announce to you that something is been done.

Please do take time to visit me and learn more about NIGERIA. I hope to read from you soon.

God bless and have a wonderful day.

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I’m more discouraged that Andrei and Christine would consider that trust is a naive concept, then you finding there be a few unscrupulous people in the world. If one goes into a large enough crowd there is bound to be a pick pocket or two among them. With the internet representing a crowd not limited by physical space I find then your experience not too unexpected. For me I see the world from neither a cynical perspective nor a naive one. Like the old joke about an optimist, a pessimist and an engineer who go to a pub with each being served a beer with its contents being half way up the glass. The pessimist complains the glass being half empty; while the optimist is delighted it’s half full. The engineer simply notes that the glass was designed twice as large as was required. Come to think of it this more relates to simply being mindful to be certain there isn’t a fly in the glass before drinking, which you have demonstrated clearly you are more than capable of determining:-)

As for the apartment renting I would normally just contact a local real estate office. However after looing around the web I find renting is highly regulated in Sweden. with landlords required to list most of their property with what’s called the Bostadsforedlingen a state-run body for the redistribution of vacant accommodation. This organisation charges a fee to tenants for placing them in accommodation. So that would appear to be the place to start. It seems that if the scammers don’t get you as always the government will :-)

Best,

Phil

sylow said...

Bee, before I started my postdoc in canada, I found my new apartment from internet. It turned out to be ok. (I found my current apartment from internet too and it is awesome). In fact, craigslist is the place I sold/bought furniture many times and tried to sell my car (unsuccessfully). Just avoid wiring money and you are ok in craigslist.

It would be much more helpful if you browse houses/apartments section of the craigslist which lists all the available apartments at the moment. Pay attention only to the ones which contain pics. My gut feeling is that craigslist won't be of much help to you in europe. It is used mostly by people in north america. As for swedish, you will need to learn it anyway at some point so this might be a good starting opportunity.
Good luck

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

Andrei's point that I think is correct is that you should locally look for some professional apartment/house owners (but this you have already mentioned that you will be doing, according to a recent comment).

Another one that I think he is right (although he exaggerates his point) is that the real world is not a pretty place full of honest people. The internet is evidently full of frauds, as you have noticed from your recent bad experience.

I make no transactions in the internet, except purchasing books at a well-known bookstore. Everything else I do in real life, locally.

Giotis also has a point, but I think there is something else a little beyond of what he says and of what you admit. I don't know whether I am supposed to offer here an advice but I can assure you that my intentions are good. Do not put or rely too much of your life in the internet. It is too easy for people to abuse of you if information about you and your life is openly available to them. You may not like what I have written here and perhaps will be upset at me, but I sincerely hope not! I wish you all the best and that you find your new apartment without much trouble.

Christine

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

Thanks for your advice. It is with this blog as with many others. They might seem peripherally personal, but despite pictures of the dog or stories from the neighborhood they don't contain many private details.

About doing things locally, well, it sometimes just isn't an option. In particular with the amount of traveling I have to do, I wouldn't get anywhere with that. In North America it seems to me you can meanwhile do pretty much everything online. In many cases you actually have to, take as an example the electronic travel authorization the USA has been introducing. Like that or not, you will have to enter your passport details into that webform. Another difficulty that I'm facing every now and then is how I am supposed to vote. In Arizona as well as in California, I searched for apartments online and arranged for a visit, which worked quite well (needless to say, nobody asked me to pay money for that, neither did anybody require me to send personal details via an email).

Anyway, I think that your impression, as Andrei's, is needlessly negative but I guess this depends a lot on personal experience. With regard to trust, let me tell you a story. Some years ago I was staying in LA for a couple of days and looked for a reasonably priced hotel in Venice Beach, unfortunately on short notice and over the Oscar weekend which seemed quite hopeless. Anyway, after some searching I found a self-made looking website and wrote to the email address mentioned there asking if they have vacancies. I got a reply saying yes, and how long I would stay and if I would arrive before 8pm. I said no, and the guy wrote back, then nobody would be at the registration desk and the door would be locked, but told me how I would get in through the back door. And for the room he gave me a codenumber to open the door. He didn't ask neither for an ID or credit card details.

So I arrived, followed instructions, and got into the room. I stayed for several days, but always missed the guy when he was at the hotel. The day I was about to leave I figured I didn't know how to pay for my stay, since there was, again, nobody at the reception. Thus I called the guy and he said, Oh, right, you haven't paid. I can't be there before you leave, why don't you give your credit card number to the room service person (who was just vacuum cleaning in the background). Since after all he had trusted me not to leave without paying, despite the only information he had about me was my email address, I did that. I checked my credit card statements the following months, but nothing funny ever appeared there.

Reason why I'm telling you that is the following. Most people don't want to cheat on others, and even less so want to be part of illegal deals. Take as an example the stunning success of iTunes replacing illegal filesharing. This story has been brillantly told in this book: fact is most people didn't want to be part of illegal transactions, before iTunes (and later following similar services) there was just no other option. (In fact, I guess many people didn't know the filesharing wasn't legal. In the book they tell the story of a 10 year old who downloaded children's songs and was one of those later sued for some thousand dollars.) Either way you put it, the only reason our societies are stable is that most people don't cheat on others even if they could since if all of us collectively disobeyed laws, there was no way the laws could be enforced (which is the reason why civil disobedience is so powerful).

Sorry for the long comment. I guess what I am actually trying to say is that mistrust breeds mistrust, thus my attitude is to trust people first unless I have reason not to. Best,

B.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Among other things, this story shows that internet is not (yet) as powerful as it is supposed to be. Because finally one is forced to rely on the old good “go and find it there”, as if all those modern hi-tech bubbles were empty. Powerful connections seem to be there, but they are sort of "too stupid", not selective enough. It seems that already today's technology should permit something like one crying out to the world (through the internet) “I am a (such and such) researcher looking for an apartment at a given place” and obtaining a series of well-specified, non-spam and interested answers (also because a researcher should be a relatively good tenant). And instead of it, there's only spam and frustration (and maybe finally a success, but after many cumbersome human efforts). There is a divergence here from usual hi-tech propaganda, also because one deals here with an elementary, mutually interesting task. Nothing is really attained yet. For example, even this blog is such an open, vastly accessible call. And where is the flux of propositions or ideas from Sweden (and they all are so “advanced” and good English speakers)? Even Nigeria answers, but not the desired Sweden, despite all expected “side links”! The “intelligent power of Web 2.0”, isn't it what Bee is trying to use here? Again lie and deceived believers in progress, even here, at its officially “highly successful” edge (hello, Christine, my pessimistic sister)!

However, by a sense of contradiction, why not to try something even more naïve, a direct e-mail request to the German embassy in Sweden (if you have German nationality)? They always have some sci-tech service there and although they are not obliged to find you an apartment, they could provide you with useful information that they should know well. And if they won't, that's another reason to make a revolution and replace their inefficient system!

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

As to general trust/no-trust discussion, I think in a way “everybody's right”, if you take into account recent (and very rapid) evolution. Traditional Western achievements indeed used to be based on generally working trust (and dominating honesty), but this is not the case any more now and that's why we have increasing number of those “crises” and others “system failures” starting increasingly and strangely just in the West, in the “best” places! While one can see a multi-level set of reasons for that change, the most “objective” one could be the fundamental slowdown and now practical end of “natural”, simple (quantitative) production-consumption growth, replaced by its presumably permanent (uneven) degradation, with this current crisis being just the “marking point” of that important maximum on the general (rough) development curve. When you have a steady natural growth, there is a strong majority of the “fittest” and successful (in the “rich”, selective countries) maintaining relatively high trust standards among them, while small deviations “on the margins” (including “poor” countries) is much less essential. But when this natural growth practically stops, while people increasingly want increasingly “easy” success, much larger “deviations” even in central parts of previously “trustful” society become inevitable. And then as usually they start forming a “self-organised” and ever greater tendency: deceive if you don't want to be deceived (= “generalised Ponzi scheme”), etc. So now we are sort of in the middle of a well-developed and powerful avalanche of falling traditional values and life style (not only in economics as everybody might have noted). And no “artificial” efforts or “government measures” can stop it at this stage, until it falls down to the bottom of a completely destroyed world (for you, Christine!).

Conclusion: don't trust anybody and if you want “true love” to be back again, well girls ... that won't be easy, already because there are necessarily relatively few “devoted” and especially practically motivated adherents to “values” in this dominating destruction (a mere general “belief” in all good things is not enough here: easily beaten by hard reality). With that huge level of change, something essentially different, and especially much more “ordered”, can only appear as generally small but big enough (stable) “seeds of a new phase” (and new faith) in the surrounding low-order environment, which is a physically transparent situation (=> a bottle of cognac from Smolin!). Which implies, in terms of present discussion, unification of “intrinsic trust lovers” in such new (but really, explicitly new!) entities as centres of that “higher order” progressive emergence and propagation in bigger volumes. Everything could even be specified here, but ... intrinsic trust lovers are terribly missing for the plan! Especially among those who have at least some practical possibilities :) ... By contrast, any “first-order transition” in the whole system “volume” returning it back to old good trust and values (the dominating hope of many) seems virtually improbable and finally even unreal in principle as progress means advance (towards higher values), rather than any return to however wonderful old days. So the default future is Nigeria everywhere, which is not that bad, after all, as we learn from a comment above, but something tells me that not everybody will really appreciate that kind of future :) ... Not all these rich whites, you know, spoiled by years of “given” success... So, wanna try something else, lovers of perfection? Prepare your trust and open your mind, I'm coming.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

P.S. in relation to the last Bee's comment. We should be so happy having your alive after that LA adventure! :) Never do that again! :) Seriously, as I said above, you're right but talking about previous, ending world order. “The only reason our societies are stable...”: but the problem is that they are not stable any more or do you thing the current crisis is not serious enough?! (don’t judge by your salary, judge by mine! :) ) And you're right again, this falling order falls exactly in the way you describe, by that “self-organised disorder” tendency I also mention above. It happens, children, open your eyes! And don't judge by superficial “material” signs of “supermarket” level. Nobody directly sells and buys values and trust (at least not that openly!), but when these fall, you need no much time (but still some) before having harder “practical consequences” (many are here already and increasingly so!). It's of (today's) subjective “human nature” series, to believe that still everything cannot fall down like this, without a well-specified, concrete reason. Everybody believed it at the end of Soviet system and that one appeared to be particularly stable, without any protests and really full power on top able to manipulate everything and everybody (and they knew the problem on top: it's precisely the reason for Gorbachev's “perestroika”). Nevertheless, it has fallen and the destruction was complete. You can say also by underlying degradation of “values”, although through a hierarchy of practical consequences. And now the West repeats the story point by point: fall of real, practically followed values, then first serious problems, then first cries “fire, we should quickly do something!”, clumsy attempts to “save” it by “local wars” and other “mobilisation measures” (= Afghanistan in both cases!), huge administrative “perestroika” measures (hello, Barack Obama!)... I would like to hope it'll be different after this present moment, but basically, you know, with all differences, that Soviet unitary empire was but a simplified (and therefore the first but not the last to fall) version of Western unitary empires and states... Let's hope for the best ... but you're already dead :) :) . My (optimistic) idea is that “best” certainly exists, but it is not so “natural”, self-emerging in this situation: needs additional important progress and understanding, just towards “deeper values”, in that direction...

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

I'll be sending you a personal email.

Best,
Christine

Giotis said...

And the big question remains:

Are humans fundamentally good and could become evil due to their environment and bred?

Are humans fundamentally evil and could become good with the help of the social environment and with the proper education?

Or humans are neither fundamentally good nor evil and their personality is based entirely on the circumstances?

Personally I agree with Bee. People basically react to their environment. Their goal subconsciously is to reach an ideal state of happiness (a state of euphoria). Generically harming their fellow man does not help them to reach that state because they feel (and understand) the pain they inflict and this consciously and subconsciously causes sadness. On the contrary, doing good things and help their fellow man gives them genuine pleasure that brings them closer to that state of happiness. They are capable for severe harm though but mainly as a reaction to the social environment (e.g. as a defence mechanism) but this is a very complicated interaction to analyse it here.

So we are selfish indeed and all we care about is our personal happiness but this is achieved intrinsically by doing good not evil.

Anyway it's funny that in the classification of humans in wikipedia our subclass is "theria".

This is a Greek word and means "wild beasts".

wondering... said...

I had a similar experience from this craiglist website a couple of years back while I was looking to buy a car. Someone pretending to be from Nigeria wanted to sell a chic BMW for dirt. And he was ready to ship it to my place free of cost. Only I had to deposit a few bucks as a security beforehand!....that offer sounded too good to be true, and that's where I backed off. We after all live in a material world!

Bee said...

Hi Baba,

Thanks for your comment. When I got these emails I was indeed wondering do these people know how they are damaging the image of their own country. It's really sad. Regarding international law and the problems with prosecution, I can really recommend the above mentioned book Who controls the Internet. It might take some effort, but it is certainly possible to track down some of these people which would probably scare off many others. This will require some international effort though. It is somewhat of a mystery to me e.g. why many of these email accounts that have been repeatedly listed as being used by scammers are apparently still in use. Best,

B.

M*P*Lockwood said...

Craig's List is the official method for finding apartments here in NYC, but when I offered a room to sublet, I also got a couple of emails from those notorious Nigerian "mugu" scammers. They're everywhere, on Ebay too.

I even got an inquiry from a pair of Swedish supermodel girlfriends! I assumed that could not be for real.

Johan said...

As Phil has already noted, the rental market here in Sweden is highly regulated. Legitimate first hand contracts close to the city are nearly impossible to come by without waiting many years in Bostadsförmedlingen's queue. There is a thriving black market in such contracts but I don't have to tell you you don't want to go there.

If you have contacts you can find sublets, but those are, of course, limited in duration. As has been pointed out before, your best bet is probably to ask your new employer for help.

Johan Swanljung

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Ever since you put up this post I wondered why the scammers gathered in such numbers. As I related to you earlier and Johan has just confirmed, it appears that finding accommodation in Sweden is not a pleasant prospect and perhaps this has amplified things in this instance. Not that it will solve your problem yet perhaps better prepare you for what you face I came across this article written by an American living and working in Sweden for some time which you might find informative and put some proper perspective on it all. I do hope that the university that hired you will be able to help for I believe that with the rental situation in Sweden they should feel they have some obligation to assist.

Best,

Phil

Thomas Larsson said...

Wenner-Gren centerGuest apartments for scientists. Normally two years queue, but openings may be available.

Vetenskapsstaden
(now University Accommodation Center AB)

Student apartments(I realize you are too old for rooms in a corridor) may be available. Or maybe only up to the postdoc stage.

The largest collection of student apartments is in Lappis. Bus 40 takes you directly from there to Albano.

Or buy a flat. The market price in downtown Stockholm is around 45,000 SEK / m^2.

Bee said...

Thanks! I'm on the waiting list for Wenner Gren, it's currently 14 months I'm told.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I was just googling for Ronald Kegan and found this!

Yep, he told me about a great place in Geneva!! What an ass.

Glad you posted this all.

Thanks!

Bk

Anonymous said...

I got a similar email using the email address minemine4youall@hotmail.com but this time the person was using the name "Angelique Fragniere" and an alternate email address, misangel2009@gmail.com but in my case it's in Geneva.

This person apparently invites you to chat and sometimes asks you to post ads for him/her. I posted one ad for this person on craigslist but after I googled the emails and found out they're being used for scams, I deleted the post.

Here's the email I got:
Good Morning,thanks for the prompt in response.My apartment is Located
at avenue de Joli - Mont CH - 1209 Geneva,Switzerland,a very conducive
place.It is well furnished with easy access of transportation.

features a living/dining room and 2 bedrooms with access to a private
garden with a shed.The modern kitchen includes a fridge/freezer,stove
top, exhaust,microwave,washing machine and dish washer.The apartment
has central heating;double glazed windows and,laminated wood
floors.Furniture includes: sofa bed, dining table, 4 dining table
chairs,standing light,coffee table,rug,media/TV table,double
bed+mattress,two night tables,two table
lights,dresser,cupboard,built-
in closet,full equipped kitchen (dishes,
cutlery, pots, pans,etc.),two garden chairs,curtains,blinds and
lighting fixtures.

The rent is 1550CHF per month including bills for the whole apartment
and a Security deposit of 1400CHF which is refundable if you make no
damages in the Apartment during your stay in it.

A room is 800CHF and security deposit of 800CHF which is refundable.


The pictures are attached with this mail so that you can see if you
like it or not. We can also chat on MSN on minemine4youall@hotmail.com
and you can always text me on this Number +447535790793 .I just got it
yesterday,but the charges is too high for me for making and receiving
calls so the best is by sending text messages.

If you are okay to proceed then do send me your details for the
contract ,the details are below.

Your name
Your address
Move in date and move out date
A scan copy of your ID

I am in London now Planning a wedding ceremony.

I am an easy going lady,i am 28 Years.i am Single.i like meeting
people,i like traveling.My profession is Wedding Planner under Event
Manager.

Feel free to ask me any question if you have got any.I like to know
more about you too.

I will send my picture in the next mail.Thanks i await for your response.

Best Regards,
Angelique

Cho said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cho said...

Hi,
I just want to thank you for posting this as a person who just received the exactly same msg from 'Matilda'. I actually phoned 'her' to that number about several times but i could only speak to her male company because she was driving(?) for an hour......hope you get a nice place in Stockholm!;-)

Ed Shanken said...

Kegan also contacted me, in response to my Craigslist post, with the same apartment in Bremen that he offered Sabine in Stockholm. BUSTED! Eddie

Anonymous said...

Craigslist rental scam-Gideon Cole, the name on the email said he was a researcher from England transferring to the U.S. and wanted to rent my house. He wanted details about the place and later send an email instructing me to deposit the $6500 check he was having sent to me and to send the balance of the check by Western Union to his decorator, Shamik Spann in Columbus, South Carolina.
This woman is listed on FACEBOOK when I googled her name. Anyway, he sent me the $6500 check and it is a forgery according to the company name on it and this is the third time this Gideon Cole has pulled this on landlords with forged checks naming this company.
I just wanted to make him waste the $23 postage and to get the check as evidence. So beware of these names, including his "fake" landlord, Joseph William, who sent me an email praising his tenant.
NW Landlord

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU, SABINE!
I googled gotgatan 130 and got your blog...you saved me from matilda... thanks...

-Mary

Anonymous said...

WARNING SCAMMER ON CRAIGLIST ---- MONEY WAS WITHDRAW IN ORANGE CA and ROCHESTER NY!!!!

I have found info about apart in NY in Craiglist. Terry Coleman of Terry Vacation Homes sent me description of flat and contract to sign. I have sent it back with deposit 50% that was sent by bank transfer on 06/04/09 to account 1177308390 of woodforest bank to Mr Jason Matthew Wade. second payment was asked by Money Gram and it was sent. After receiving the second payment the person is desappeared and he does not answer to mail or phone. the name appears in some scammers list on the internet.

I have payed the first 1900 USD to the following bank account as asked by the scammer: Bank name:Woodforest National Bank; Full name :Jason Matthew Wade; Account Number: 1177308390 Account Holders address:157 LaGrange Avenue, Rochester, NY 14613; Bank address:456 WEST 25TH STREET NEW YORK ,NY 10001 USA

The Money Gram Payment has been received in ORANGE California as confirmed by central office of Money Gram which has made a research on his database.

Arun said...

Rental fraud even off of Craig's List
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/realestate/28cov.html

E.g.,
"Another young subtenant, Autumn Marie Griffin, 26, discovered she was being scammed only after she had been renting an apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, for two years. Although she had felt initial misgivings about the man and woman she sublet from, she shook them off. Her wake-up call was an eviction notice.

“Basically, the man my roommate and I had been subletting from had been pocketing the rent for almost the whole time,” said Ms. Griffin, a publicist. Their landlord, whose rent was actually a quarter of the $1,150 he was charging them, had forged the building manager’s signature on the sublease the women had signed.

“I look back and I’m like, what was I doing?” Ms. Griffin said.

Fortunately, the management company sympathized with her plight and found her and her roommates other housing arrangements. Had it not, said Ms. Griffin, who vows never to sublet again, “we could have easily been left with no place to go.”"

Anonymous said...

Hi Sabine.
I'm also going to stay at Nordita this fall. And started to look for a suitable place to stay through f.i. www.andrahandsguiden.com and www.annonsfynd.se. And came across this too-good-to-be-true offer.

So I wrote to this gentleman Patrick Sven, and received a very nice response. A bit long to include here, but anyway identical to this post. Herr Patrick Sven apparently owns identically furnished apartments in a lot of European cities. Now I have also responded to a similar announcement, and are eagerly awaiting answer from lady Abigail Bennington :-)

I think some defence against such fraudsters is to mention them enough on the internet that they show up in google searches, patricksven325@hotmail.com abigailbennington1967@hotmail.com

For now we have settled for one of the Nordita/KTH apartments in Gyllenborgsgatan or Thorildsvagen. Perhaps we will be neighbours this fall?

Kåre Olaussen (spending sabattical at Nordita july-december)

Bee said...

Hi Kåre,

Why don't you send me an email? It's sabine at perimeterinstitute dot ca. Best,

B.

The Staircase Wits said...

Hi I just wanted to inform anyone looking that I believe that I was nearly the victim of a similar scam.
Look out for the email:job.swe1@rocketmail.com
This person claimed to be from the UK and living in Sweden, but the IP address originated in Nigeria.
There was also mistakes in the emails. Unfortunately I sent a scan of my passport before I went with me gut and wised up, so if Nikita from Canada offers you and apartment in Stockholm, please know it is NOT me!