A Big Check

This check is actually from a few months ago, but the story behind it is still definitely worth sharing. I included the entire text of the e-mails, because there are a lot of red flags of which to be aware.

Since Lee and I moved to our new house in March, we have been trying to rent our townhouse. After one tenant moved out unexpectantly in August, we listed the townhouse on craigslist (I really am upset about the fact that this is one word). Not even 10 minutes after posting the ad, I received the following e-mail:

I’m Doctor Calcano Sony, i’m a medical doctor here in England, Married. I am planning of leaving England for United States and I need an apartment to live when I get to the States. On going through all the apartments here, and their price differences, I prefer this apartment even with the reasonable price tagged, i’m indeed interested in renting the apartment, if you are ready to let it out for me please let me know. I’m not a smoker and i do not have any pet. i would be glad if you can process this for me and reach me on my e-mail.

My due regards,
Dr.Calcano Sony ,Ph.D (Chemist)
St. Mark’s Hospital 28 Northwick Park,Watford Road,
Harrow,Middlesex HA1 3UJ,
United Kingdom .
Phone:+44 7045 73 1260 Fax: +44 7030403330
e mail;calsony@gmail.com
..to protect human health and the environment

Obviously, there are errors in that e-mail, but I just figured that it was because he was not from the United States. THIS IS PART OF THE SCAM! After I responded, I received the e-mail below. This time, “Chemist” in his signature was hilighted in lime green (I found it to be odd that he even included “Chemist”. I’ve never seen a doctor do that.).

Thanks for your mail, i am indeed serious about renting this unit and will be willing to offer you two months rent or a year to start with plus the security deposit in order to secure this unit prior to my arrival.
Could you be kind enough to let me know what the electricity/utility cost would be ? As i will really need to have this unit for myself. You can send me the lease application , to enable me to review it ahead of time. I would eventually have it signed physically when i arrive. In my opinion, appending signatories should be done properly and at best physically.
This is an international situation . With this arrangement, my financier in the states, will be effecting your payment deposit to you. I believe we can work together and ensure every arrangements that we shall both execute in line with my taking up the tenancy should be done accordingly to ensure we have a proper understanding. In view of my work schedule, I would want us to finalize basic arrangements. I will arrive the united states in 14 days time. If you require any specific information, pls let me know or you can call me on my cell phone, please dial as presented for international calls .
My due regards


Thanks for your mail ,well am a chemist by profession and i am currently working with St. Mark’s Hospital, 28 Northwick Park, Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3UJ, United Kingdom .
I will be in the states for the next one year and during my stay i will be working with the United States Environmental Protection Agency on a private research work.
I have a financier that is based in the States and he will be handling the rent deposit payment on my behalf, I will instruct him to send you the check for this as soon as you give me the go ahead to make out payment to you. Due to the limited time that I have before my arrival, I’m making arrangements with a furniture company to supply the home with furniture, so I will need you to provide me with the measurements of the living room and bedroom so that I can send it to the furniture company so that they can supply the unit with furniture that will fit in well. As regards the lease agreement,i will eventually have it filled and signed on my arrival in your place as I am of the opinion that such documents are best filled and signed physically. I can start the lease by the Ist of Septemberand i will be doing a one year lease. You can prepare the lease in my my name Dr.Calcano Sony. Let me know how to move ahead as i intend to complete this deal before i move in 13days time, I will let you know the exact date as soon as I get a booking on a flight to the states.
Thanks and sincere regards from me

After telling him that I would measure on Wednesday of that week, I received the next 3 e-mails, which started to raise some pink flags for me (not quite red yet):

Sorry for any inconviency this meant course you ,, i will like you to make the measurements available today so that the i can get with the furniture company and my financial to have you the total money due to me
please will like to know the total cost of deposit including with the security for a year lease
—–Thanks for your email, the rent and deposit to be paid by me is okay by me and i have forwarded your payment information to my financier with an instruction to him to issue and send you a check for payment, he told me that he will be sending you a US Check and that it will be sent to you as soon as possible, i will get back to you with the tracking details of the transit of the payment. As regards my coming over, I will be due to arrive you on 28 or 29th of this month, I will confirm the exact date and time to you when we get a booking on a flight to the states. For our furniture, I am in the process of ordering for home furniture from a furniture company and I am planning on having them delivering it to the house before my arrival so that I can settle in comfortably when I arrive, as you can understand that transiting across atlantic is not easy. So I want to know if you can take delivery of my furniture for me when they are delivered to the house? Please let me know so that I can make arrangments accordingly, I will ask the furniture company to contact you to schedule the delivery time and date that will be best to deliver my furniture before my arrival. Please let me know if this is okay and I can go ahead with payment to you.
Sincere regards, I am looking forward to meeting you soon.
Dr.Calcano Sony.

Now here’s the kicker! Next, I get this e-mail! This is when all kinds of red flags went up for me!

Dear Sharmaine Mitchell,
From Ashley Furniture,We are contacting you in the regards of some Furniture Order made by Dr.Calcano Sony who is our client that made Order for home Furnitures,he has given us Quotation for the Furnitures.All we want you to know that we are coming down for delivery on next week Tuesday because we are not responsible for keeping furnitures that are already done,so we are making this oppurtunity to make good arrangement with you so that we can know the exact time you will be available for us for the delivery.Sorry for this inconvieniency we just have to let you know before taking any step.Just get back to us the time you will be available for us. We are waiting for your quick response today.

Esther Todd
General Manager,
Ashley furniture Inc,
600 agnes rd,Detroit ,Michigan.
P hone; 916-760-6385

This mission statement reflects our proud past and our desire for the future.This is the mantra that drives us in everything that we do. From design through fulfillment, we continuously strive to provide the best product at the best prices accompanied by the best service in theindustry. Being the best and bringing the best to you is our relentless pursuit.

Ashley Companies (Ashley Furniture Company, Inc.)

And, he included the logo! The mission statement was copied and pasted from Ashley Furniture’s website. Do I even need to explain why this is the e-mail that made me stop dead in my tracks? I must mention that the e-mail address from which it was sent was: ashleyfurniturecompany@mail.com.

Below is the e-mail I received the following day, after researching the scam online and finding out that this was a classic case! Please note that I told him the total payment should be for $2,000.

How are you today,hope all is fine with you, i want to notify you that have already contact the furniture Company with the measurements given to me by you,they told me that they have started the job with immiedaitely effect, they told me that they will contact you for the best time for the delivery,my financier Issued ( about $7,600 being money due to me) from which i’ll like you to deduct the fee for my apartment and help me keep the balance with you as i’ll be needing some money to pay the Furnitures Company that will be moving our Furnitures down. You will receive the payment today through ups courier service(1Z41E57R0190025610) .Hope to hear from you soon. Have a good time.
Dr.Calcano Sony.

Well, needless to say, I did receive the check that day (at work), and I sent him the following e-mail:

I know this is a scam. I received the check today. I know it is no good and I will not be depositing it.

His reply:
why that? i never do such in my life. i have been a good christain
Please note that I altered NOTHING in these e-mails. I simply copied and pasted. Be on the lookout for these and many other signs if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. Below are links you can go to for more information:

Basically, the scam works like this: I would take the check to my bank. It would clear, and I would send him the difference of $5,600 – IN CASH (Western Union). Meanwhile, about 2 weeks later, my bank would discover that it was a bad check, that there are no funds available. So of course, the check will have bounced. BUT I would be responsible for recovering the $5,600 that I would have withdrawn and sent to this “doctor”, in addition to any other fees.

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