by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
419, advance fee, nigeria, rent checks, scams

Latest Nigerian Email Scam: Renters Checks

from the sneaky,-sneaky,-sneaky dept

It's been quite fascinating, over the years, to see how the various "Nigerian" scammers have adapted and evolved their strategies. While variations on the originals exist, over time we keep seeing new scams show up. They started, obviously, with the traditional 419 "advance fee" scam, asking you to help them get more money out of Nigeria. Then, they morphed by paying attention to current events and making the scams more closely related to events happening in the news. Then there was the scam where they would buy something on eBay, but send a forged check that was much, much higher than the purchase price, asking you to send back the difference. Of course, the victim would only find out later that the check was a fake and that he had been cheated out of all the money sent (as well as the value of the sold item). Then, they started combining phishing and advance fee scams, to make you think your friends needed money wired urgently to Nigeria. Oh, and who can forget when they started a scam that didn't prey on the victims' greed, but their love of cute puppies? Awwwwww...

The latest is that they're placing ads for apartments to rent in high rent districts, and then asking prospective tenants to do a money transfer to a friend or relative to prove you have the money available. That seems legit -- and since it's to a friend or a relative, the prospective tenant knows that the money is safe. Except, once they've forwarded on a scanned copy of the transfer payment receipt, the scammers go to the bank pretending to be the recipient and withdraw the money. It's a bit more complicated, but again, it's a scam where the victim is easily tricked because there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with what's happening.

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  • identicon
    Jake, 3 Oct 2008 @ 3:28pm

    You mean there are still banks out there that don't require either the bank card or account-holder's signature (with a scanned image for comparison), photo ID or both for making withdrawals?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2008 @ 3:34pm


      They're using Western Union according to the article. You transfer the money, send them the receipt, and then they take the info from the receipt to pick up the money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), 3 Oct 2008 @ 3:50pm

    Just when I would have thought...

    Just about when I would have thought there would be nobody on earth left that would fall for that scam, one of my nephews called me to tell me about this wonderful arrangement he had made for the sale of his car, where the 'buyer' had sent him a cashier's check for a little over $3000 more than the asking price...

    Fortunately, he called me before meeting the guy to sign over the title and refund the difference...
    -- Without the 2nd Amendment, the rest of the document is only wishful thinking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      anon. coward, 3 Oct 2008 @ 5:36pm

      Re: Just when I would have thought...

      Apparently, this isn't by any chance the latest of scams, this has been going on for about 2-3 years and as fate would have it, one of my best friends fell for it thinking he was making "free" money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    teck, 3 Oct 2008 @ 3:54pm


    who ever falls for dumb shit like this deserves it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    gyffes, 3 Oct 2008 @ 6:59pm

    Free money?

    I mean, really, all you need to remember is: "If it sounds too good to be true, it is!"

    It's thinking like this by the 'brains' on wall street that brings us this freaking bailout...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Roberto Valenzuela, 4 Oct 2008 @ 7:50am


    I was targeted by this one -- there was a rent ad describing basically the perfect property at a really good price. The initial reply to my email seemed interested and sincere -- but then he told me I had to use The Online Outpost to pay the rent, without sending me a lease or anything.

    This raised my suspicions, even more so when I got two emails purporting to be from The Online Outpost which were actually from a fake domain ( instead of, which asked me to use Western Union to wire money to a UK private address. At this point, I just strung the guy along for a few more emails just for shits and giggles. :P

    For any UK readers brave enough to do a little footwork out of curiosity, here are the addresses given to me via email:

    Scammer "potential landlord:"

    Karl Robben (
    85a Kentish Town Road
    London, London, NW1 8NY, UK

    Scammer "Online Outpost agent:"

    Jonny Howard
    15 Pembroke Court
    London, London, NW6 7PP

    If any of y'all actually find anything at these addresses, do let me know. :)


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    blinkdt, 4 Oct 2008 @ 7:47pm

    As Old as the Hills

    "this has been going on for about 2-3 years"

    Quite a bit longer than that, actually. I saw my first Nigerian scam in the year 2000, if I recall correctly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, 4 Oct 2008 @ 9:12pm

    Nigerian Scams

    To me, the worst is the charity scams (the FCIC has been warning about these, as well as the others - google the FCIC and get on their mailing list).
    Some time ago, it was estimated that over 30 percent of the TV solicitations for charity were out-and-out scams; and it was growing explosively. I sincerely doubt that any of the newer groups are legit. Not impossible, but very unlikely.
    Oh, and did I tell you about the email from'?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Oroboros, 5 Oct 2008 @ 2:41pm

    Another morph

    I received an email this week purporting to be from a friend. Her name was spelled correctly and the return address was definitely hers. The email claimed she was stranded in Nigerian and needed me to lend her $2500 to settle up with the hotel bill. This went out to everyone in her address book, and she claims that they have thoroughly compromised her identity, cleaned out her bank accounts etc. all apparently via a virus, most via a keylogger it installed to capture her back account credentials.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lissy, 1 Nov 2008 @ 10:02pm

      Re: Another morph

      I received the same scam mail this week. I wrote back to my friend in a separate email asking her to confirm it was her and got a reply from the scammers!(I know how my friend strings a sentence together)
      It would appear that they have control of her email.
      It's all a bit worrying as my friend actually is away travelling (not in Nigeria though) and I have no other way of contacting her to see if she really is ok.
      i've forwarded the scammers reply to: as suggested by a site that's been watching the Nigerian scams

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    alex, 6 Oct 2008 @ 8:37am

    Another variation on the same theme that's been going around is the dinner reservation scam. A person overseas emails the restaurant with the intent to book the place for three consecutive group dinners. The scam artist tells the restaurant to charge 5,000 pounds to a credit card and deposit 4,000 of that amount into the bank account of their "travel consultant." #more

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Toddy, 18 May 2009 @ 3:27am


    One of my friends recently accepted £5000 from some guy in Nigeria who wants him to "keep £1000 for himself, but send (launder) the remaining £4000 to another person". My friend accepted the cheque, kept it for 6 months, then spent the whole £5000. He has had no repercussions, and has a new TV! I'm not saying that this is a good idea - it's just good to know that not everyone that has touched these scams has lost out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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