The Property “Owner” Rental Scam

September 12, 2008 at 4:41 pm | Posted in Rental Scams | 16 Comments

Here is how the scam works.

The scammer, usually from Nigeria, the UK or outside of the US, copies a residential rental ad from a rental site and reposts it to a free large classifieds site. They make the rental price very low in order to attract as many potential renters as possible.

The unassuming interested renter thinks the price is too good to be true but decides to contact the “owner” or “property manager” of the home.

The email response would look something like this. (This is a real email from a scammer). email is (

Subject: Re: $800 / 3br – Better Than New!

We have decied to let you live in our house. As we have found your application very setisfactry and acceptable by my family. So we would want you to go through the acceptance form and get back to us on what you feel.I will be giving you a call later.we would like to send the following document to you via FEDEX to the address you sent to us and the tracking number will be sent to you so that you can possibly occupy our housePlease once againwe are giving you this on trust and do not dissapoint us and I promise you thatyou will love the house. So we are with the below document here with will need to make Payment for Rent deposit and shippment of the Keys and document to the address you will have to provide to us.
Here are the contents of the document.

1) Entrance and the rooms Keys
2)Paper/Permanent house form
3)The house documetary file.

So please do get back to me today so that I will let know the next step to take concerning the payment. I await your reply ASAP.Regard and God bless you!!! You can call us on how to make payment for the shippment of the Keys and Document to the apartment. Our house number is +234-803-659-7132 OR 011-234-803-659-7132.or you can indicate if you want me to instruct you on how to make the payment.

Mr. Johnson David
WifeTheresa & daughter Melinda100 Church RoadLagosWest Africa. 01234
+234-803-659-7132 OR 011-234-803-659-7132
Missionary Code: 15148Z

The unassuming renter sends this scammer a check assuming they will then receive the keys to the property. Of course, the keys are never sent and the scammers now has the renters money.

In some cases, the scammer will tell the potential renter that they are out of the country but can send them the keys to see the house themselves. If they don’t like the house the “scammer’ says they will refund them their money. (Usually a $2,000 deposit)

The major red flags of any scam are:

  • Outside of the US
  • Misspellings
  • Wanting Payments – Cashiers Check, FEDEX, etc
  • Unable to personally show you the property
  • Is traveling on business and will just send you the keys


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  1. […] Some scammers try to post ads and do a “Property Owner Scam“ […]

  2. […] Some scammers try to post ads and do a “Property Owner Scam“ […]

  3. I have had the same pretty much ad after inquiring about an ad on craigslist, This one uses Almost to the T was the email that was sent to me after responding to the ad. I at first thought everything was good gave him my name and addy as well as where I work, but it didn’t feel right, So I kept checking and found this.

  4. I just received a very similar email in repsonse to an ad on craiglist. The email address was and they were requesting a refundable deposit of $700 to obtain the keys to view the property. The writer claimed to be working in Nigeria. I didn’t respond. I will report the ad to craiglist.

  5. […] The Property “Owner” Rental Scam […]

  6. The scams are getting even harder to detect – just today we had one about someone who entered into a deal to BUY a house he found on an anonymous classifieds site. After making payments for two years, the house was sold out from under him and he has no recourse! We’re regularly posting stories about the rental scam and many others on our blog, and asking for people to submit their own stories, to help educate classifieds users. If anyone here wants to share, we’d love to have your stories too!

  7. I found a house to rent from a man “working” in the UK. I was leery sending money, so I called City Hall to find out if the property is indeed in his name and it is. Any suggestions?

    • what is his name? I did the same thing..he is going by Joseph Zgut in CO, but the sad part is that I think Joseph Zgut is a real person, property owner. I am trying to find a way to contact him.

  8. Came across a listing for a gorgeous condo in Long Island City posted on NY Times Real Estate and Rentals Online. This two bedroom, two bath should be going for around $3K but instead was way below market value at $900! Upon reaching out to the property manager it became apparent the whole thing was a scam. When someone cannot prove they “own” what they are trying to rent, run far far away! Please watch out for Nicholas Carlson Herron at

    • I just reviewed a listing by this gentleman and I tried to call the # that was given and it didn’t work which made me Google the name. At first I just Google Nicholas Herron and nothing came up. Then today I received an emailed document lease with the name Nicholas Carlson Herron and Google that and found this site. The new # in the UK: (+447035913733), email address is:, and this is some of the other things he emailed:

      1) Hello,
      Thanks for your email response and your interest in my apartment. The apartment is available for $850 per month, I would like you to know that I am not after the money but absolute maintenance of the house as that is what I am after, Everything is not about money. I inherited the apartment from my late father. I lived in the apartment all alone, but presently now i am in London, United Kingdom. I will be residing here for some time due to my current assignment.
      I am a committee member in an (GUAP COMPANY: GLOBAL UNION AIDS) PROGRAM. And we are on a campaign program to UK and some part of England. I just need someone with an open heart, loving and clean to occupy the apartment and put all my worries off concerning the maintenance of the apartment, since i am not residing there for now.. I left behind some Facilities and electronics like satellite TV which you have to pay for the subscription, and a sony DVD player, air conditioning, alarm system. Each room has the following utilities….wifi, Internet connection(broadband), water, heating system, gas system, you would have free and unlimited access to the Kitchen,Living room and all other parts of the apartment.
      The kitchen is fully equipped with all necessary cooking utensils, a refrigerator-freezer, four-hob and oven, microwave, dishwasher and washing machine. Also the keys to the apartment are right here with me, and also the lease document. Which I would be sending to you after all necessary agreement has been accepted. The Rent fee also includes the cost of the Utility bill, The utilities include cost for electricity, heating system, water, gas and also the cooling system and also takes care of the parking and the internet (Broadband) and phone connectivity.
      Also I will like you to know that the rent charges is not really the issue, but your absolute maintenance of the apartment, because that is the only valuable property my late father left behind, and it also took him so much time and money to put all those facilities in place.
      My apartment is situated at:
      1049 5Th Ave,
      New York, NY 10028
      Hope to read from you soon.

      2) Hello Maxime,
      Good hearing from you that you are really interested in my apartment and you have to promise me that you will take very good care of the apartment as you know i am not around for now. You can check on the apartment, but its unfortunate you cant access into the apartment as i have the keys here with me, since I am presently in the United Kingdom. As i do not have anyone i can rely on to send the Keys to the apartment. Please bear with me.
      Presently I’ll be buying an apartment in Clarksville, TN next year from the Apartment owner by March 23rd as i have been making the arrangement before i left for United Kingdom. Hopefully i would be moving to the new apartment when i return, as i would be residing in Clarksville for my new Job.
      So it depends on how long you’ll be renting the apartment. I assure you shall enjoy your stay in the neighborhood when you move in as it is safe and quiet. The apartment is well furnished already for your stay, as stated in my previous email. And below is the question that you must answer to qualify for the rent of my apartment. In fact i will like to see you when coming to visit my apartment soonest. Please fill the rent form below and forward it back to me as soon as possible.
      1)Your Full Name
      2)Your Full Address & Phone Number
      3)How old are you?
      4)Are you married?
      5)How many people will be living in the Apartment?
      6)Do you have a pet?
      7)Do you have a car?
      I have attached the apartment pictures on this email for your view okay.
      Looking forward to hearing from you with all this details so that i can have it in my file in case of issuing the receipt to you and contacting you and delivery of the documents and keys for your stay in the apartment. I Await your urgent reply so that i can discuss on how to get the document and the key to you, please i am giving you all this base on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words, you know that i have not yet seen you but i am only putting everything into Gods hand, so please do not let me down in this my property and God bless you more as you do this. The place is available and how many months would be staying. You can contact my Tel line here in the UK : +44-703-591-3733.
      I Await your reply now,

      3) Hello Maxine,

      I believe that you are really interested in my apartment and I hope you will keep the promise of keeping it clean? You will have to pay upfront for the first 2months rent, as indicated in the Apartment agreement form, after which you shall continue on a month-to-month basis thereafter.

      You can contact me anytime after 2pm US time. You can lease the apartment for a year or more. Indicate it on the rental agreement. I am pretty sure you would find the neighborhood very interesting. It is quiet and safe and the neighbors are fun people to live with.

      One more thing, you have to sign the agreement attached right away and forward it back to me via email, so that I can give you the details you will need to send the rent funds to me in order for me to send the document’s and the keys of the apartment to your provided address via FEDEX or DHL service. You can contact me on Phone here in the UK: (+447035913733) to discuss further.


      I don’t know if we can but I am going to try to contact where I found the listing and see if they will remove it. This is not cool and something that these sites should take better measures to protect people that visit the site.

    • I asked this guy working in the “UK” for proof the mortgage. He then proceeded to tell me, he left it in a dresser drawer at the house. Well…he initially told me that the place was unfurnished…just be aware of red flags everyone!

  9. I was looking for a house to rent and came across this web site ( the owner said they moved to London,UK and to send them a deposit of 700 dollars and they would send the keys and lease fed-x.

  10. I am going to contact the real estate agen tomorrow because when I drove by there was a sign in the yard. I did a little research and the property owner is indeed Joseph Zgut, so could this be identity fraud too? He is indeed claiming to be Joseph Zgut.

    Here is my latest e-mail with him.
    Thanks once again Hunter for your reply also thank you so much for the information provided. Everything is okay I and my family are pleased with it.I can see your willingness in this rent !!! So as we shall be giving you our house, please again take care of the house so that we might be glad when we come back.You can stay as long as you want as the job appointment will last for 4 years .

    As i have earlier told you,the money involved is not the problem,but i only need my house to be kept clean always and taken care of until i return.I also want to thank you for your understanding and we have seen your application and my family and I have accepted you to be our future tenant and i hope you will not disappoint us as I promise to be a good landlord to you.Attached also are some of the pictures of my house here with me and I hope you will like them.

    You will be paying $750 Monthly ,I will not want you to get worried okay?.You will have to pay for move in cost of first month rent and security deposit total of $1500. There is no application fee, application is free.

    As you want to move in by January or February, 2012, you will have to provide the security deposit of $750 so I will hold the house for you and also remove it from the site.So I will like to know when you will make the money available so I will let you know who and where to send it.I am still in the process of opening an account here as it remains some documents needed by the bank from our working place which they are yet to issue to me.

    I will have to contact the FEDEX Courier Service for the shipment of the house keys and documents to your names immediately i receive your move in cost:Bryan Nicolas Or Danielle Nicole Hunter.Address: 6864 South Ivy Way Apt. 107,Centennial CO 80112.

    Below is the content of document and some of the correspondence that will be sent to you first thing after your move in cost is confirmed.

    (1) Entrance and the rooms Keys.
    (2) Paper/Permanent house form (Containing your reference details).
    (3) The house documentary file.
    (4) Payment Receipt.
    (5) Signed approve application.
    (6) Signed Lease Agreement.

    These will be sent to your current address you have provided to me in the application form as soon as your move in cost is confirmed and the tracking details will be sent to you so that you can possibly occupy our house immediately you get the package. again, i am giving you this on trust and do not disappoint me and i promise you to be of good landlord to you.

    I and my family are really happy to find a good person to occupy the house and i still want you to promise that you will not disappoint us,after then i will let you know the next step to take in getting the documents,keys and rent.

    Please,reconfirm your delivery information to avoid it getting into the wrong hands.

    Delivery address:………

    Hope to read from you soon.

    Thank you and remain Blessed.

    Mr Joseph Zgut

  11. I saw an ad on craigslist for a house for rent, so the “owner” and I started corresponding emails. I have figured that this is absolutely a scam but I am worried because I gave them my full name, date of birth, and address. What should I do? I did not however wire money. There are so many red flags throughout the emails.

    Thanks for your email, Sorry for the late respond….I personally own the house, I want my property to be well taken good care of there are some rules and regulation. I do give out to tenant willing to rent my house please don’t disrespect my order but if you are still capable of renting my house the rules and regulation goes his way………You must keep my house clean including the surrounding, you must know how to use the stove to avoid fire outbreak, you must not disturb the neighbor. I decided to rent out the property due to our transfer to (West Africa) for Missionary Work in a church here named World Mission because formally the house was for sale but my wife advised me not to sell it anymore, now l want to rent the house because I’m looking for someone to move in asap. We are renting it out because we need someone to take good care of the property because of the distance we are not after the money. Don’t be surprise if you find this house at another website with different price, I plan to rent it through Real estate before but they are not serious because they have a lot of house to lease out and they added some money to rent it and the commission is not flexible. Have this in mind you must know the kind of person I’m because am giving you this rules because of what or responded between me and my last tenant , you can drive by the house anytime to take a look at the area and surrounding. For now we are looking for 2 or 3 years lease or rather lets us know how long you wish to stay.

    Let me know if you are still interested to able me forward you the Rental Questionnaire to fill out…

    Number of Bedrooms: 3 Beds
    Number of baths: 2.0
    Square footage: 1,167
    Pets are welcome!!!
    Rent: $550
    Refundable security Deposit: $550
    House Address: 620 Reindeer Drive, Kissimmee, FL 34759

    Thanks and God bless you.
    Volf Dan & family
    +234 7044078154

    Hello Michael,

    Thanks for the email, I’m pleased with your response , We have been searching for the right person to occupy the home in our absent which I believe God will answer my prayer very soon towards my property. The utilities are included in the rent Washer/Dryer/heat/electricity/hot water. We planned staying here for 4years or more and I might also decide to move back to my new renovated home in MI upon my arrival.

    Filling out of the Questionnaire will determined if you are the right person to occupy my house,we will send another email to let our know our final decision. I’ve attach some picture of myself , my family and brethren in Nigeria.

    Rental Information……

    Full Name?
    Full Address?
    Cell Phone Number?
    Home phone Number?
    Work Phone Number?
    Date of Birth?
    Are you married?
    How many people will be living in the house?
    picture of you and your family?

    Do you have a pet?
    Do you have a car?

    What is your monthly income?
    Reference Contact Name and Address if Any?
    Why are you moving?

    When do you intend to pay the deposit?
    When do you intend Moving in?
    Any Police problem?

    Thanks and remain blessed..

    Volf Dan & family
    +234 7044078154

    Thanks for filling the Rental Questionnaire, I reviewed and prayed over it now and I saw how sincere you, this brought peace to my mind that I’ve found the right person we’ve always been praying. I and my family are extremely happy because the content of your letter was clear and frank. So we have decided to accept you as our new tenant, why i made my house so inexpensive was because i believe everybody deserves a home both the rich and the poor. I am not after the money, we just want our property to be incurred under proper monitoring and make sure you conform to your promises. We are giving you this opportunity based on trust, please do not disappoint us. We are asking for the refundable security deposit of $550 to move in, after you have moved in as soon as you are ready then you can pay for your rent.

    Kindly confirm your address for the shipping of the keys/document across to you ASAP :
    The documents to the house will be sent to you with the keys via FedEx courier service upon payment confirmation, and you will receive the package in 24 hours after shipping is done. The content of the parcel are listed below.

    1) Entrance and the room keys.
    2) Paper/Permanent house form(Containing your reference details).
    3) The house documentary file.
    4) Payment Receipt.
    5) Driving direction/Full description of the house.
    6) Hard copy of lease Agreement

    Below is the instruction on how to make the payment,the money should be wired via Western Union Money Transfer,

    ZIP CODE: 23401

    Get back to me with the following details as soon as the done to send the parcel asap

    AMOUNT SENT:$550

    Thanks and God bless you.
    Volf Dan & family
    +234 7044078154

  12. I burly noticed i was being scammed by southern cal services because they asked for 200 for the property reservation and they i called another company and said that property was rented so i called with different names and they still kept saying it was available just to leave 200 dollars so they kept doing it too alot of people and they are not giving their money back does someone know if i can do something about it??

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