I almost got scammed by a “roommate” on Charlotte Craigslist

I almost got scammed by a “roommate” on Charlotte Craigslist
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Looking for roommates can be an absolute freaking nightmare. Will you even like this person? Do they have good hygiene? There is no scarier place for the big roommate search than Craigslist, but this is where my adventure began, as I was looking to rent out one of my rooms.

So looking on the Charlotte Craigslist page, I was intrigued by a post under ‘Room/Share Wanted’ that read like so: “Professional 28 yr old female looking to rent a room in quiet, safe neighborhood. Other females only please! Looking to pay $600-$650 a month. Non-smoker, I don’t party, and I like to keep a place cleaner than before I got there. Dogs are okay—woof!”

She sounded fantastic, like someone I could trust not to bring over her drug dealer to my house or go into my closet and wear my brand new clothes without asking (I’m obviously jaded from previous roomies).

Since she was the one who made the post — she didn’t seek ME out — it seemed okay to reach out and tell her that the ad spoke to me. She responded the next morning and sent this email that almost had me sold:

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craiglist roommate email

And naturally, excited about the idea of an awesome new roomie and friend, I looked her up on Facebook. There were several Audrey Coopers, but none from Plattsburgh, and none from Newport County. I tried Instagram, Twitter, even LinkedIn — nothing. I googled Audrey Cooper with Utica College and Strathclyde University, no dice. To add to the strangeness she sent me this email:

craiglist scam

Did she live in this weird research facility? Why did she have a number but couldn’t talk, only emails and texts? I never received a call from her ‘supervisor’ and I had too many red flags popping up so I stopped responding.

She had told me she would send a check for first and last month’s rent and that her move-in date was January 31. Like I said, I didn’t send another email and to my pleasant surprise, she didn’t email me again.

I was relieved to be done with the odd transaction. Our last correspondence was January 14, and the 31st came and went. Then the other day, she emailed me out of the blue:

beware craigslist roommate

Nearly three weeks since we last spoke! I told her I hadn’t heard from her and assumed she was no longer interested in the room. I said that I had to rent it to someone else and that I would void her check. To which she replied:

craiglist emails

Her efforts? No one ever called me, and the dates didn’t add up at all. And what is this strange compound where she can’t make phone calls or reach out for three weeks? I was so confused and put off by her accusing tone. It gets weirder.

craiglist roommate email text

She kept insisting that I still deposit the check and take $300 for myself. She IMPLORED me… I couldn’t take the ambiguity any longer so I googled “Craigslist roommate scams where they send you money” and a website came up that described my situation to a T.

The article, on Rentingoutrooms.com states, “The scammers or purported roommates make initial contact with you, stating that they are interested in renting your room, but cannot visit because they currently live overseas or have a tight time constraint and can’t make the time.”

Audrey claimed she was in Rhode Island and working all the time. The article also mentions that the scammer will likely say that they are very laid-back and will have a detailed story that seems legitimate. Audrey bombarded me with her life story from the very first interaction. The article also mentioned that most of the scams come from overseas so watch out for people who say they can’t talk on the phone and for grammatical errors in emails.

So here’s how the scam works: The fake roomie will send you a check or money order for more than the amount that you asked for and later claim that they made a mistake. The article explains that, “The scammer sent you a check or money order that looks genuine, but it’s actually counterfeit.  The bank will accept this fraudulent check, as you are depositing it into your account.  They may even cash it if you have an account with them.  When you send them back the amount that was ‘overpaid,’ you’re really sending them your own money, and the bank will deduct the full amount of the fraudulent check from your account when it fails to clear. Thus, the scammer runs away with your money.”

I checked my mail today and had indeed received a check from ‘Audrey’ for $2,500. All I had asked for was first and last month’s rent totaling $1,200. I couldn’t believe that this was a common thing. Reading the comments of the article, many other people have experienced this same scenario and their details were so similar to Audrey’s story.

This is something that is happening in all the major cities and plenty of smaller ones as well. This scam comes in many forms, people sending payment for something, sending too much, and then asking for the difference. Be careful when dealing with people on the internet.

Update: I brought the fraudulent check to my bank to report the scam. They looked into it and told me that it was from a real bank but no one name John Smith (yes, that was the actual name on the check) had an account there. It was a fake.

I told “Audrey” that the bank said her check was fraudulent and that the FBI are getting involved and I strangely have not heard from her since. The room in my house remains unrented, and after this fiasco I am in no hurry to find a renter. I have faith that someone trustworthy will come along eventually, organically.

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