The Loh Life

Journey to the center of Craigslist: I walk with Christ-- part 4

Sandra Tsing Loh gets scammed Craigslist by a Nigerian man overseas who claimed he was British.

Ah, Craigslist. Once it was the province of San Francisco dreamers, travelers, starchildren. Now look who’s moved in: the Nigerian scammers.

Like the one I just rented a ROOM in my dad’s house to. Oops. But who can blame me? He had IDENTIFIED himself as TONY, a 29 year old British construction engineer with a 12-month contract in the U.S.

He said he was a fun-loving Libra with an interest in fashion design who enjoys soul food, soul music and not bike RIDING but something called bike ridding-- And perhaps THAT should have been the tip-off--he spelled it with two d’s." But he’d rushed us a cashier’s check. How could he be a fraud?

It was my friend Tracy, googling "Craiglist scams" on her IPHONE, who told me.

In the Nigerian Craigslist RENTAL scam, the person WRITES you from quote-unquote "overseas." They RUSH you a cashier’s check--here’s the twist--for MORE than they owe, because supposedly their company or CLIENT is paying for most of their travel expenses. You THEN are supposed to send THEM a check for the difference, to cover the MOVING guys-- The problem being that while YOUR check is real, THEIR check is bogus, and you’re OUT a couple of thousand bucks.

That said, I don’t know who’s RUNNING the Nigerian Craigslist scam BOILER room, because while Tony DID send a check, he never FOLLOWED up. Perhaps he sensed the jig was up when I ASKED him the name of his COMPANY and he replied, uncertainly, "Frozen Lemons." In the meantime, I CONTINUED to get LETTERS through Craiglist from more and MORE supposedly British STUDENT types, with worse and worse spelling and grammar. Sample: "Hello. How doing today. I saw your advert on here. Am Carol. Work with a STOLT COMEX SEAWAY." It was like the masks of the boiler room crew were actually melting.

And yet, polite AMERICAN that I am, I always felt COMPELLED to write back. "Dear Carol," I would write, "what with all the Craigslist scam letters we are getting from London, we can’t rent to anyone overseaas But then, fingers hovering above the keyboard, I was suddenly moved to type: "Best of luck with your 12-month contract, though. And remember: PEACE COMES TO THOSE WHO WALK WITH CHRIST JESUS. . .sincerely: DR. LOH." Even I was taking on a different personality!

And it was all too effective. The scammers quickly fell off. My inbox was, all too soon, quite empty. And I realized, weirdly, that I MISSED those Nigerians.

Their stories were so colorful, personalities so bouncy, interests so varied (the disco, the reggae, the roller-blading!).
Which tempts me to write:

Nigerians in the boiler room! All is forgiven! Your room in Malibu awaits!
I’ll post it on Craigslist next week!


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