University Of Vermont


  Scam | The Overseas Tenant

An overseas individual (usually from Africa or the UK) contacts you via email saying they are moving to your area in the next few weeks due to a job transfer and needs a place to rent. Their email is full of rambling detailed personal information, assurances of their trustworthiness and honesty, usually overtly friendly and religious in nature. Even though they are highly educated professional individuals (engineers, doctors, scientists or ministers), their use of the English language, grammar and spelling is terrible. You are asked to please email the rental terms as well as the property details and pictures (even though it's on your Ad listing) to them ASAP. Generally, these individuals want to rent your property sight-unseen, ask you to take your Ad offline (offering to pay you to do so) and sometimes even ask you to oversee the arrival of their furnishings. A third party will be issuing you a check on their behalf.

Soon an authentic-looking check complete with watermarks arrives in the mail. These fake checks look so real that they even fool the bank tellers. However, the amount on the check is for way more than you agreed upon (sometimes they pre-warn you it's going to be more) explaining the extra funds are to cover travel or moving expenses. Usually it creates a financial shortage for the tenant. They engage you emotionally, imploring you to deposit the check quickly (assuring you that the funds are indeed there) and ask you to immediately wire-transfer the difference to a foreign account, of course, inviting you to keep a generous amount for your trouble.

The money is transferred as asked. The "tenant" never shows but has your money. The check that was sent to you bounces and you are left to cover the insufficient funds and overdraft fees.