Earlier this year Kelly and I posted an ad on Craigslist for an apartment swap. We were lucky enough to connect with a very pleasant family in Paris, but 90% of the responses we received were from scam artists. And not very skilled ones, at that. Look, I'm just not going to believe that you have a four million pound flat in London if you don't use capital letters, write "u" for "you", and can't spell "Britain" correctly.
Here's how most of these scams work. You get a response from someone who wants to swap apartments with you. The photos they provide are clearly pulled straight from the internet (one of the photos still had the watermark across it). If you look closely at the photos you'll see, for example, that the photo of the kitchen has a dining room in the background. But the photo of the dining room is a completely different room. If you ask about it, the response is that the flat has TWO dining rooms. But we can't expect these guys to be savvy about luxury properties, as a quick IP address search will show that most of them are e-mailing from Nigeria. Eventually they ask you for a security deposit and then disappear.
So you can see that it would take superhuman effort to resist having a bit of fun with them.
"Joe" emailed me, ostensibly from London but with an IP address that showed he was in Nigeria, saying this:
Am Joe, i have a two bedroom flat for swap at Gower Street,
Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6HG,it's very big apartment,it can accommodate
up to six people,......
it's as an allocated packing space
The flat is a 2 bedroom apartment and it has the following facilities:
Sheets & Blankets
The Living room
cable and internet
Full-size stack able washer/dryer
Plates & cutlery
And a balcony with a wonderful view of central London.
Wow! The apartment sleeps six people with only a single bed? The kitchen is furnished? And the living room is equipped with an iron? Sounds great!
So I emailed him back, saying that my husband and I were very anxious to see Farfel Square on Farfelnarfel Boulevard - is his flat close? Of course it is!
yes my apartment is available and yes is very close to farfel square,how many people a re coming.
So I emailed and said I was VERY excited to be near Farfelnarfel Boulevard, and I hoped he was excited about coming to Hong Kong. Does he like Chinese food? The flooter dumplings with nooter sauce are excellent!
His next email, sadly, did not mention my flooter nooter dumplings, but asked for a security deposit. Well, I can't send money to someone who might not like dumplings. My email back:
Joe, do you like flooter dumplings with nooter sauce?
I anxiously await his response.