Craiglist scam gets personal

You are a recent college grad, starting your new job and strapped for cash. You're trying to find a reasonably priced apartment and decide to search Craigslist (because who doesn't?) and find a too good to be true 1 bedroom apartment for $800! Well, it is too good to be true and here is why...

Just recently I became aware of a Craigslist scam that involves people using actual listed properties as their way to scam people out of money. The main theme of the scam is to request first month's rent + 1/2 as a security deposit BEFORE you receive the key.

I was contacted by a Princeton student saying that she was in contact with a woman about renting an apartment and was given my address in her inquiry. She found my email because when she did a Google search of the address, my Bucknell Club website came up with my contact information (and she just happened to be a Bucknell grad). Then on Sunday, another girl came by to see our place saying that it was listed as 1 bedroom with our address. I asked the Princeton girl to email me with the Craigslist listing so I could "inquire about the apartment" myself. And in fact, it is a scam. The woman's response to my inquiry below with the address included (but I deleted my address for privacy).

--- On Sun, 12/7/08, Melissa Gorka <> wrote:

> How are you doing today? Thank you very much for taking your
> time to write me. it is my sincere pleasure to write you
> back, and to let you know that the one bedroom apartment you
> are making enquiry of is still available.
> Utilities Inlcluded: Heat, Gas, Electricity, Water, Dryer,
> Washer, Internet/Cable and a secured parking space.
> Available from now, First month rent of $800 and security
> deposit of $400 is required before move in. Well trained
> pets are also allowed. Let me quickly introduce myself to
> you. My name is Melissa and my husband's name is
> Gorka.My husband is the owner of the apartment you are
> making enquiry, but right now he's in West Africa on a
> missionary work, l was suppose to travel with him, but
> some months before he traveled, l had a very serious car
> accident, that affected my back bone and brain, that lead to
> my disability, now l am using wheel chair and l find it
> very difficult to talk, but l can still communicate
> through any means of writing, that is the reason why l was
> unable to travel with traveled with my husband. Right
> now, l am staying with my mother in Ohio. She is also
> suffering from lungs cancer.
> Actually I and my husband both resided in our apartment
> before he traveled to West Africa on a missionary work, so
> we both agreed to rent/lease our apartment, to somebody that
> can take absolute care of it, in order to enable me pay
> for my mother's hospital bill and take care of myself,
> We will not like to experience what we experienced from our
> last tenant, he destroyed most of our valuable home
> appliances ,and l know how much my husband spent to
> replace the things our last tenant destroyed in our
> apartment before he moved out.
> To be honest with you, a whole lot of people are contacting
> me regarding our apartment, but l am not sure of who to
> accept due to our past experience, so we're taking our
> time to look for a responsible person, that can take proper
> care of our apartment, as if it is his/her own. My husband
> is a very busy man, due to the nature of his job, but he
> said if l find a responsible person, that promise to
> take care of our apartment, l should let him know. We
> don't ever want to take the risk of putting our
> apartment in care of an agent again, because our last
> agent just leased our apartment, to somebody that
> destroyed most of our valuable home appliances, since my
> husband is a very busy person, he said l should be very
> careful with the kind of person l rent out our apartment
> to.lf you can assure me that, you will take absolute care of
> our apartment, as if it is your own, we will be more than
> happy to have you as our new tenant to be.
> Here is the address of our apartment (139 #########, Princeton NJ, 08540) As soon as l hear from you, l
> will send you more information regarding our apartment.
> Expect to read from you soon, once again, thank you very
> much for the time you took in writing me me. l must tell you
> that l really appreciate it.
> Yours Sincerely
> Melissa Gorka

Please read and pass this around to let people know that this is going on and very serious. If you know someone who is apartment hunting(and who might be in school or just graduated with little money), let them know to be wary of responses like the one below.

Rob and I called the local police to ask what to do, so I'm considering having them write up a report about it. I have filed a report at the Internet Crime Complaint Center with the hopes that something can be done to help prevent this in the future. It's very scary that our real address is being used like this.


The Quirked Eyebrow said...

Melissa is peddling an apartment in Athens for December/08 ~ guess the climate is better. :)

But thanks for posting her email ~ I've added the info to a bio to be posted at

Anonymous said...

she also tried scamming me saying the exact same stuff but her email was

Anonymous said...

June 25 2009 - I played stupid to this and got the Western Union Accoutn info which i have filed with and also with my local RCMP detach adn submitted a report to craisglist. this time was in Coquitlam, BC (according to her add Coquitlam, VA as in vancouver i guess). i got the exact same response as was posted above.

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