Julia M. Becker

New York Apartment Rental Scam

Every few years I take a group of my college art students to New York City for a week. In April of 2009 I found an apartment rental on craigslist.com and followed up on renting it via the internet and email.

I was instructed to email my driver’s license to them (ostensibly so they could recognize me at the airport) and send the money to via Money Gram. Unfortunately, I did go ahead and scan and email my driver’s license to the supposed apartment owner. Fortunately, the local Albertson’s grocery store would not let me send the money because they have a policy not to send money to craigslist.com listings due to recent scamming on craigslist.

The store employee instructed me to check our www.lookstogoodtobetrue.com and www.onguardonline.gov which I did and I found enough correlation to this specific listing that I backed off at that point. I had been trying to call them but could never get a real person. I emailed them about the payment and we continued that conversation (they wanted me to mail a check) while I continued to check it out. At that point I was definitely concerned and realized that I had at minimum had my driver’s license stolen. It was obvious to me that they were not the person they said they were (Niles S. Bonthron, 8305 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373).

I filled out the scam report form on craigslist. They never got back to me or confirmed anything though I requested it. I also call my local Sheriff’s office and reported the incident. He said he would file it with the FBI. I also called the Sheriff’s office in Queens and spoke with someone, leaving the information including the address where the money was to be sent. They never followed up with me though I requested this. This all happened that week of April 23rd or thereabouts. I immediately went to the Drivers License Bureau, cancelled that driver’s license and applied for a new one as recommended.

It is amazing to me that the police, FBI and craigslist have not yet stopped this scam. Numerous people have emailed me and I have responded quickly to let them know it is a scam. Unfortunately, many people have apparently lost large amounts of money.

If you have found such an ad purporting to be in my name or if you are currently entwined in this scam, I suggest you contact the authorities immediately. One number you might try is that of the New York State Police, (315) 592-8070. If I can assist in any way to get to the bottom of this, I am willing to do what I can.