Monday, May 19, 2008

Anatomy of a Craigslist Scam

So . . . Jen and I are looking for a new place. We've both got some decently paying jobs in the last 18 months and we think we can afford something $2-300 more per month for some nicer digs. We live in a one bedroom, in a decent building, in a shady neighborhood now, and we are looking for a 2 bedroom in a decent building in a decent neighborhood to move into.

As you would expect, one of the websites I used to search for apartments was Most of the stuff on there is legitimate, but sometimes you come across some real flagrant attempts to rip you off. While I have no solid proof, I think this was one of those times.

This guy was offering a 2 bed 2 bath luxury condo in Yorkville (crazy posh neighborhood in Toronto - condo's sell for millions)for $1200 a month. I had a feeling this was a scam, but like all good scams, the bait was too good pass up an attempt to at least inquire about the apartment.

Here is the link to the posting so you can see it for yourself:

This is my email correspondence with the guy. Just reading it is pretty hilarious in and off itself. He says he is the Pope Benedict's body guard and is so holy he couldn't think to rip me off. Just send him a deposit, he says, and the apartment is mine.

I am interested in viewing/quite-possibly renting the apartment you are listing on Please get back to me at your earliest convenience at either of the phone numbers below or via email to schedule a time to view the apartment.
James Blackmore

From: Mary and John Welsh
Sent: Monday, May 19, 2008 4:39 AM
To: James Blackmore
Subject: [Bulk] Re: $1200 / 2br - Stylish Bay/Bloor-Two Bedroom/Two Bath Condo Available for Rent (Toronto)


Calvary greetings to you for the swift response regarding my advert, I am so much pleased with the enquiry you make regarding my property for rent. My name is John Welsh, I'm born in Dec 26, 1967 in Canada. I work with the holy father Pope Benedict XVI as his personal body guard you can see our blog at (Primarily pictures of the baby, but you'd see picts of John and I too. My wife (Mary) and myself have been busy serving the lord with all our heart and also the holy father Pope Benedict but presently now we are in London, england on an official assignment that the holy father sent us to do over here in England that is why we decided to place our property out for rent to a good christian family that is responsible that can we can trust to take property responsiblity of our property for us. Just remember to check on our website for all our informations.

This is the exact Address of my place 1121 Bay St Toronto, ON Canada

So if you can promise us that you can take good care of our property like yours then you can reply back to us again so that we can know how really serious you are in renting our property because we are so busy serving the lord and also the holy father. We want you to let us know if you are absolutely interested with all your heart because we do not need someone that just want to deceive us. Kinldy get back to us with the fill out of the rent application information below as soon as possible inorder to know when to send you the keys and documents for your viewing because we are so busy and we don't want to waste any time.

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 house?
6)Do you have a pet?
7)Do you have a car?
9)When do you want to move in
10How long do you want to stay in my apartment
11) Pictures of all the Occupant that will stay in my apartment

The Almighty God Bless You.

Mary And John Welsh!

On Mon, May 19, 2008 at 7:05 AM, James Blackmore wrote:
Hi John & Mary,

Thank you for replying so quickly to my email. I am very intrigued by your story; it's not often you hear from someone who is working as closely are you are with someone as world-renowned and inspiring as Pope Benedict XVI. It is good to hear that there are people such as yourselves, following their hearts and making a difference in the world.

My name James Blackmore, I am 25 years old and live and work for a software company in downtown Toronto. I live with my spouse, Jennifer, she is 24 years old and works for one the big 5 Canadian banks at their head office, also in downtown Toronto. We are both hard-working, professional and responsible people and we gladly promise to take the absolute best care of your property. We believe that the way you keep your home is a direct reflection on who you are as a person; and we try to send a message that says we care about ourselves. We also have a 1 year old Yorkshire Terrier named Bella. She is fully house trained, weighs only 5 lbs and true to her breed, does not shed.

Let me try and answer your questions

1. James Blackmore
2. Toronto, ON Canada
3. 25 years old
4. Jennifer and I have been living together for 2 years and will be getting married in the near future
5. Only 2 people will be living in the house, myself and Jennifer.
6. Yes, we have one little Yorkie named Bella
7. We do not have a car.
8. I work in sales for a software company on Bay Street, Jen works for a big 5 Canadian Bank at their downtown headquarters.
7. July 1 is our ideal date, but we can work with others.
8. We are looking for a semi-permanent home, 3-5 years. We are planning to move to a fully detached home outside of Toronto when we are ready to start a family, but that be until our early 30`s.
9. See below:

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind Regards,

James and Jennifer

From: Mary and John Welsh
Sent: Monday, May 19, 2008 10:59 AM
To: James Blackmore

Hello James Blackmore,

Thanks very much for your reply also thank you so much for the information provide. Everything is okay and am pleased with it.I can see your willingness in this rent !!! So as i shall be giving you our place, please again take care of the place so that i might be glad when i come back. The Almighty God will continue to guide you and your family because when i read your full information i pray for you all and i know that the almighty God will always be there for you and your family. my family are so happy that we have found a good tenant as you.

As i have ealier told you,the money involved is not the problem,but i only need my house to be kept clean always until i will be back.You will be paying $1200 Monthly including the utilities inside, it all depends on the period you wish to stay in my apartment,i will not want you to get worried only have to tell me the numbers of months in which you can be able to pay as upfront/deposit e.g 1 month:$1200: 2months: 2400 or the deposit of $800 etc. As a Man Of it word,i always have this human feelings so i will not do anything to stress or be difficult to my fellow human and this is why i want you to tell me the numbers of months in which you can be able to pay as deposit. also we would like to send the following document to you via DHL courrier service to your address provided by you which

Please We will want you to confirm your deliverey informatyion Again before will forward it to our lawyer over here with us for the delivery of the keys and documents to you once you are ready to make the payment upfront of the numbers of months rent you can afford. So confirm your informationb below.

Packages Receiver's Name: James Blackmore

Packages Receiver's Address: 191 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, ON Canada

(1) Entrance and the rooms Keys
(2)Paper/Permanent house form(Containing your reference details)
(3)The house documetary file.
(4)Payment Receipt.
( 5)Full address and description of the place.

These will be sent to you in the address you have provided to me in the Applicant form and the tracking number will be sent to you so that you can possibly occupy our place immediately. Once again, i am giving you this on trust and do not disappoint me and i promise you that you will love the house. i shall be coming in the middle of the year to check on you so that i can know how you take care of my place for me and if it is okay by me, then i shall be collecting the rest of the fee from you by myself.

Me and my family are really happy to find a good person to occupy the place and i still want you to promise that you will not dissapoint us.after then i will let you know the next step to take in getting the documents,keys and security code to our place

Hope to read from you soon.

Thank You and Remain Blessed

On Mon, May 19, 2008 at 8:16 AM, James Blackmore wrote:

Hi John,

Before I accept that apartment I need to clarify a few things.

Firstly, I want to actually see the apartment before I commit any money or make any down payment. As I am sure you can appreciate, doing anything else would be foolish.

Secondly, as per the standard course of action, once I have seen and accepted the apartment, I will be glad to provide the first and last months rent as a deposit, and then pay month to month from there on out. I am concerned by your email in terms of wanting money up front. That rings alarm bells that make me feel as though I may be falling into an internet based scam. We don't know each each other, and I must be very careful.

Thirdly, please let me know when the apartment will be available and for how long you plan to rent it out.

Please address these concerns and we will be glad to move forward.


James Blackmore

From: Mary and John Welsh
Sent: Monday, May 19, 2008 11:27 AM
To: James Blackmore
Subject: [Bulk] Re: [Bulk] GOOD NEWS!!!______HALLELUYAH YOU ARE ACCEPTED

Calvary greetings to you for the quick message, We understand what you said and we want you to know that i have been working with the holy father benedict for the past 3 years now and i have been so sincere and clean to him and i will never do any that relate to SCAM because we are a God fearing family that was i gave you the website that covers all our information. We are not after your money because we are already blessed by the God. We are here to alos assist people and we have our help foundation called MaryJohn Foundation. if you are not ready to make the first and last month's rent upfront then we will advise you to only make the security deposit so that we can instruct our lawyer over here with us to send you the keys and documents so that when you have receive it to see the inside and if you like it then you can make the first and last month's rent that you said. we would have loved to come and show you the apartment but you know that we are very busy because of the assignment that was given to us by the Holy Father Benedict, We will instruct our lawyer to send you the keys and documents through DHL courier servive to your address once you are ready to make only the security deposit. You can call jus on our cell phje number anytime

Hope it is OK with you because we are ready to give out the place to you.

God Bless You.

Mary and John Welsh!

On 5/19/08, James Blackmore wrote:

I understand what you are saying, but I am not able to make a down payment until I have seen the apartment first hand. Do you have any property managers on site who we could book an appointment with to show us around? If this is what you say it is then you should have no problem with us seeing the apartment before sending you money. I need to be %100 certain this is a legitimate offer before any money changes hands.

The only way I can be sure is by seeing the apartment first hand.

Please arrange this.


James Blackmore

Hello James,
Thanks for the message, I do understand what you said and i want you to know that we are doing this legitimately, we are not after your money and your money is not the issue. As soon as you are ready to make the security deposit mu lawyer will proceed with the delivery of the keys and documents to you asap the security deposit is refundable. There is nobody over there for now because we are a very busy servant serving the ord with our assignment with the holly father.I am assuring you that this is 100% legitimate offer that you cannot afford to miss. Just jhave believe and faith in us then we can move further.
Mary and John Welsh!


This comment has been removed by the author.

Hi James,

I live a few hours east of Toronto. I am glad you wrote this post in your blog..thank you! I had a feeling about a scam as well when I received a reply back about a house we inquired about that was listed for rent in our town. It was listed on Kijiji Classifieds. I thought maybe I should google the phone number, and with that, I found your blog. So thanks again!

All the best,

I will post the reply below:


Thanks for your email response.The House is still available for rent for $1100/month.I inherited the House from my late father.I lived in the House with my wife mandy, but presently now i am in United Kingdom(UK) and i will reside here for some time due to my current assignment.And we are on a compaign program to UK.i just need someone
with an open heart,love and clean to occupy the House and put all my worries off concerning the maintenance of the House for, since i am not residing there for now.I left behind some Facilities and electonics like satellite TV and a sony DVD player, air conditioning, alarm system. 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 House are right here with me, and the lease document. Which i can send to you after all necessary agreement has be accepted. Also i will like you to know that the rent charges is not really the issue , but your absolute maintenance of m y House, 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. You can Contact my wife mandy in this email ( She will attand to you better as i will be very busy for now. You can give a call if you want on +447031926680 Al so you can view the pictures below.

Newer Carpet
Marble Floors in Kitchen and Bath
New Paint
Amenities Include
Laundry room

Lease Terms:1 to 12 month leases available

Please, get back if you are really interested in having my House

Hello, I have also relieved the same type of email. About living in the UK, getting the property from his father, the only valuable property and so on. However they asked for pictures and everything about us, so they are slowly improving on their scamming techniques. They explained they could not even tell us the number of the house because the last time that they did that it cost them $32000, that was a definite red flag. What idiots lol.

I'm happy that I decided to google the number they gave me to call, and I am very happy that there was already something posted about this incident. :)

They truly are stupid because they gave me the information to send them money, that of course is apparently not the issue. So I will be reporting this, my dad works in the government so he can guide me on what actions to take towards this. :)

Have a good one. :)

Hi there,

We may have been in touch with the same guy (or team?). Here's an ad I came across today (by the way, I found your blog by googling 'scam "john welsh"'):

a dream property

I contacted the guy, who goes by the name "John Welsh" as well, but this time he is a reputable surgeon now working for the Irish government -- no, I'm not making this up. If our correspondence turns out to be as hilarious as yours, I might just post it here ...

... till then, may thou be blessed by the Lord Almighty ;-)