Over the past 16 months we have met two separate victims who have been scammed by the same Craigslist predator who goes by the name of Chrissie. The victim replies to Chrissie's ad on Craigslist for inexpensive rental properties in Playa. Chrissie claims to be the owner or manager and then tries to get unsuspecting vacationers to wire her rent money. Luckily in both cases involving us, no money has been exchanged, thanks in part to our intervention. However it does leave us wondering what kind of twisted sociopath would do this to other human beings?
In the first episode, a few months back we received a call from "Janet", seeking our advice about a rental unit in our condo complex. She had read our blog and knew we lived in the Quadra Alea Condominiums. Janet had replied to an ad on Craigslist posted by Chrissie for a furnished two bedroom in Quadra Alea for only $700/month including all expenses. Chrissie asked Janet to wire her the $700, and refused to accept any other form of payment. Granted Janet was a bit skeptical and hence contacted us.
Janet forwarded us her email correspondence, which included photos of the unit. We were immediately skeptical since a furnished two bedroom where we live goes for $1,700 USD, not including expenses. Electricity alone could possibly be $100 or more a month. Going through our list of owners in Quadra Alea, we could not find a Chrissie. Although we did not recognize the unit by the photos, we advised Janet that most likely it was a scam and to not send any money.
Ironically a week later we were contacted by owners of a rental unit in Quadra Alea about us taking over management of their unit. They forwarded us photos, and lo and behold it was the same unit. Needless to say they did not know Chrissie and were very taken back that their condo was being used as part of a scam.
I'm not sure if Janet or the owners reported anything to Craigslist (we did not). That was the last we heard of Chrissie for a while... that is until our phone rang the other morning. Two ladies, "Mary and Martha", were at the security gate of my complex looking for Chrissie. I was thinking Chrissie was a former renter of the condo, back when it was managed by another company. It was not until I went out to meet them that I realized Chrissie was the same Craigslist predator.
Apparently Mary and Martha had arranged to meet Chrissie at the condo to exchange keys and rent, a mere $600 for two weeks over Christmas ($3,400 USD less than it was really renting for). They also refused to wire Chrissie money, but did agree to give it to her in person in Playa. I related the somber news that they had been scammed: Chrissie would not be coming, and that they had traveled all the way from New Hampshire to Playa during the busiest time of year, and essentially they would have a very difficult time finding a unit for only $42/night.
Of course I could not leave them on the street, so I invited them back to my office, offered them a drink, and then began looking for a rental for them. Allan and I decided to let them stay one night in the unit for only $50, in hopes they could find somewhere else to stay the next day. Luckily they did find another unit, and they were very thankful that we didn't just leave them stranded.
Allan and I were left pondering: what kind of twisted person sends two innocent victims to another country when there is clearly no benefit for either party? It seems like a cruel game, orchestrated by a very lonely, unhappy person. Once it was clear Mary and Martha weren't wiring Chrissie money, why would Chrissie then arrange a meeting in Playa with them to receive the money? One would think Chrissie would just stop communication after hearing "I'm not wiring you the money." Perhaps Chrissie's got a good laugh out of sending these ladies to a foreign country, envisioning them standing there at the complex, dumbfounded that they had arrived on vacation with no place to stay. It's almost like flying cross country to attend the Super Bowl, and the person who has the tickets never shows up at the stadium, so you are left outside wondering - what now?
Ironically I use Craigslist often to market our rental properties. We even posted a help wanted ad for website work, and met a wonderful technician in India, who did a great job and did not run off with our upfront deposit. We will continue to use Craigslist as it is a very valuable resource. Even as keen as we think we are into reading people and sensing who is good and who is out to do us harm, there are always going to be people who travel under our radar. There is always going to be someone who fools us, and tries to take advantage. Luckily for the one or two selfish, uncaring people out there, we have met leagues of wonderful souls, who make the journey worthwhile. Hopefully when Allan and I fall victim, there will be someone to help us out and to pick us up and say, stay at my place, we'll help you out.
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