Dammit Mudah, scammers again! I’m looking for a new place to rent and of course I’m on Mudah.my. I found this almost too-good-to-be-true apartment for rent in Marina Court.
And you know what they say about things that look like they’re too good to be true.
So, here’s the ad. Fantastic deal for Marina Court, which is right smack in the middle of town. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Yes, yes it would be.
Clicking on the ad only made me more excited. I’ve only been into one appartment in this block before, but the photos pluasably look like what could be the interior of an actual Marina Court apartment with typical local furnishing choices. The bedrooms, in hindsight, seem to not quite be in the same style as the rest of the apartment, but hey, for RM1,500 a month, I’ll overlook anything.
A little closer inspection revealed a major flaw though: no phone number.
But ok, rationalised my eager mind, perhaps the owner listed it themselves, and they might not be too tech savvy, or perhaps they’re concerned for privacy, and therefore didn’t want to list their phone number.
I clicked on the link to contact Gloria. About an hour later I got this reply:
Victor, who claims he is a retired engineer, proceeds to outline the most wonderful deal ever. He moved to the UK a few months ago to take care of his nephew, wants a trustworthy tenant (ME!) to take over the apartment.
He only wants RM1,500 per month, just RM1,500 as a deposit and will include water, electricity, cable (nevermind that you don’t get cable here, only satellite), internet, 2 parking spaces (TWO!!) and furniture which includes a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher and an oven/stove. He’s like f’ing Santa Clause! If you know property deals here in Kota Kinabalu, you will know what an outrageously good deal this is.
But wait, there’s more! He has storage for if I don’t like his stuff AND I can have pets. Not sold yet? An agent has the keys and signed contract ready and waiting just for me. Fan-effing-tastic! All I have to do is just tell him a little bit more about myself. Easy peasy.
Let’s pause for a moment while I show you a Google Ad. Gotta pay the bills…
Where were we? Right, I was overjoyed with the unbelievable apartment I had found. But being the suspicious person I am, I first pondered a few fishy things.
First of all, Victor didn’t mention poor Gloria at all. Gloria, who is appears to be neither the owner nor the agent, has a funny email address. Her email address is email@example.com – weird domain, especially for Kota Kinabalu. But nevermind.
Victor’s email address is also only just a little fishy: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can overlook the fact that it’s Hotmail – older people still use it, not just scammers. But it’s a bit of a weird spelling of Denningg, most commonly spelled with 1 g. That’s also not concrete evidence of anything, although that 2 at the end is definately the cherry on a very red, flag-shaped cake. Neverthless, I ignored all that in lieu of this awesome deal.
So, I replied with a few personal details, most of which are already littered about on the Internet (notably this blog). It took me 20 minutes to craft the perfect email and polish it to sound just right. It’s an interview after all, to illustrate what a model tenant I am.
No sooner did I click send, however, when this email comes back. So either Victor is clairvoyant and knew what I was typing before I sent it and his reply ready, or it’s an automated reply which has SCAM written all over it. Between the lines, of course.
In the course of this one email we progressed to a short-name basis. Vic starts off by letting me know how happy he is that I’m keen on his apartment. From there on out it reads almost exactly like that time I got similar emails when I tried to sell my car, also on Mudah.
The short of it is that Vic wants my full name and address and then he will give me the details of an iProperty.my agent (Wait, not Mudah? Running the scam in many places, are we?) to whom I can pay the money for his Marina Court apartment. A secure account of an agent, of course, where it will be kept safe until he can courier the keys.
Aaaaaand, if after 2 days of inspecting the apartment I decide it’s not for me, he will refund me the money. Yes! Yes, he will. He said so right there in that email. Clearly a standup guy, this Vic.
Vic then ends off the email by thanking me for the nice cooperation. I bet he’s already rubbing his hands in anticipation of receiving a blind deposit. Unfortunately I replied to his email, saying “Dammit, don’t scam people, Vic”, so perhaps no knee-rubbing for him after all.
Oh well, back to the drawing board.