almost scammed

Perusing craigslist for apartments the other day I came across an unbelievable deal:

The Metropolitan, 117 North 15th Street Philadelphia, PA 19102 with 2 bedrooms, 1 living room and 2 bathrooms, square ft.

The rent for 1 month is $1,200.00 including all utilities for the duration of the contract (water, electricity, Internet, cable, 2 parking spots, air conditioning, washer/dryer in unit, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator). You can move in the apt in the same day you receive the keys with the contract.  The only problem is that I am the only person who has the keys, but I hope that we will come to a compromise.

2 bedroom / 2 bath in center city for $1200 WITH PARKING! Well, I just had to contact this poster (Michelle Rothstein.) I then received this reply:

The apartment is ready for you, you only need to receive the keys and the contract so you could check it out, and see if you like it.  Obviously we need a way to complete this deal that will allow us to make sure we receive what we are asking for. I have found a way for us to complete the deal safely and fast, and in this way you will receive the Keys in less than 2 days. The solution is provided by a company called TNT which is similar to FedEx, DHL or UPS, which will handle the payment and delivery of the Keys. I have found a procedure that will allow you to pay for the rent of the apt only after you will receive the keys, and through this way you will see it and decide if you like it or not, before sending the payment.

Now, at this point I should have sensed something, however I was blind with glee and I forgave the fact that I have never heard of TNT because it is a European company. Asking ‘Michelle’ for more information about TNT and expressing the fact that I should just be able to go to her landlord/doorman if she was unable to show me the apartment, I received this reply:

Hello,

Thank you again for your reply. If you are ready to proceed with this transaction I will need to inform you with the steps on how this service works and how we can make it happen. You will only have to deposit to TNT Service the first month of rent $1,200.00 so they can proceed with the shipping, and you can receive the keys and the contract. Like I said, I will pay for a 2 days delivery so you will receive the Keys and the contract signed by me right away. I will explain you step by step how this will work .
1 – To start this transaction I will need to know your full shipping information, full name, full shipping address to proceed with this deal.
2 – I will go to the TNT Office and leave the Keys and the contract in your name as the intended receiver.
3 – TNT will check the envelope to see if everything is OK with it and also the legal papers that will come along with the Keys.
4 – TNT will send you a delivery notification to let you know they have the Keys and the papers in their custody, in which you will be told that they have the Keys and that they checked it.
5 – At this point you will have to go to a Money Gram office Location and make a money deposit on the TNT payment agent name for the amount we agreed, the total amount you shall deposit is for the first month of rent .
6 – After you make the deposit you will have to send the info about the money deposit to TNT  (Reference Number, sender’s name and address)
7 – TNT will verify the payment information’s and if everything is in order they will deliver the Keys and the contract to you .
8 – After you receive the package, You will go and check the apt and in 6 days you must contact them and tell them if you keep the apt or not, if all is in order you will instruct TNT to send me the information about the money deposit and I will be able to receive the funds. If you don`t like the apt they will send your money back to you, and you will send them the keys and the contract.
I will pay the TNT Service for the shipping and you will pay Money Gram for the Money Transfer fee.
Let me know if we can do this, and email me all your full shipping information so we can proceed with this deal.

Uhh… Money Gram!? Red Flag.

A quick Google search for ‘TNT scam‘ resulted in 1.1 million hits. Reading through the first few results I realized that I was not going to be getting an amazing apartment for $1,200. Apparently this has been happening in several cities and unfortunately a few poor individuals fell for it and lost a good amount of money.

I am still in contact with this person and am trying to think of a good way to cause them financial loss, however I am having trouble thinking of ways to do this.

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