Memoir: I Was Scammed Out Of My Apartment

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As a 20-year-old girl with a year of metropolitan living under my belt, I genuinely believed that I was no longer the ideal candidate for a local apartment scam. Turns out my naturally oblivious Southern Belle attitude would beat my hardcore NYC chick attitude in an arm wrestling match. After reluctantly spending twelve months in Murray Hill — New York City’s least interesting neighborhood — I was more than ready to venture to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After I had been to about eight apartments filled with guys in cargo shorts and rainbow flip flops, I finally arrived at the door of an apartment that didn’t make me want to be sick all over the welcome mat. When I went inside, met the roommates, and discussed prices, I had decided that it was “the one.” I wrote a $2,850 check faster than Lindsay Lohan can down a shot. Later that day, the scammer (who I’m sure would like to be kept anonymous) “liked” my Facebook status, expressing how excited I was to have “finally found the perfect room!”

As it got to move-in date, I sent a text or two (or seven, I was just so excited) asking some general stuff like how and at what time I can move my stuff in, would there be wireless, blah blah blah. He was short with me and seemed pretty annoyed every time I contacted him. I began to feel like a needy girlfriend or an obsessive mother…both not attractive characters. On move-in day, I still had yet to see or directly speak to the wanker and he had never answered any of my questions. He finally called me half way through the day of my supposed move in, giving me the OK to head over. When I got there, everyone seemed pissed that I was there (and that was before I even got to put my embarrassingly childish elephant print bedding on). Soon, the actual owner of the apartment came home: It turned out he had let his friends “rent out” his apartments, but they took the down-payments and used it on other properties, ensuring that their “friend” never got his rent check. He was nice about it and offered to let us stay for a month, as well as help us relocate.

Several local publications, such as the New York Post and Gothamist, have covered the stories on the Williamsburg loft-scams-turned-nightmares within the past couple of weeks. In these articles, the perspectives were from people from out of town who were looking for a short term loft lease and signed for the nonexistent apartments. Myself, and the other girls who were duped into moving in with me are staying in an apartment that is very much real. It's just an apartment for which rent hasn’t been paid for over 2 months. We were pretty taken aback by the fact that we had all just lost almost $3000, so my roommates and I got forties of Coors Light and sat around feeling sorry for ourselves.

If you’re asking yourself what the scammer and his BFFAE accomplice did with the money, then that makes two of us. No one ever received an explanation as to where it went. All we knew is that it was gone…not just from us but from them as well. They were reduced to posting Craigslists ads to apartments that didn’t even exist just to get first and last month’s rent and a security deposit. As it turns out, these two considered themselves “real estate agents”. It’s like if I looked through a telescope then put that I was an astronaut on my resume. These men are literally the dumbest criminals alive, as if people wouldn’t find out and sue when they never got to move in…because the apartment wasn’t REAL.

The pattern of unreturned security deposits, bounced rent checks and made-up lofts led to the eminent downfall of two wannabe slumlords. However, it wasn’t all bad. A few benevolent outcomes from this ghastly situation are as follows: A) everyone has, surprisingly enough, found a better living situation. (Like that would be hard.) B) The whole story itself and the “But I don’t have anywhere to sleep!” attitude is an undeniably good pick up line for both sexes.

It’s been about a month since the final incident. A few weeks ago, my mom came to visit and see the apartment. My roommate had some hot French Canadians over for a drink so my mom was pretty occupied and happy, all until two XXL detectives came in looking for “these two guys.” Shockingly enough, they showed us pictures of the two scammers. We hadn’t heard from them for a while until their stolen loot had been spent and no one cared. At all. After a few desperate calls/texts from the scammers asking if they could “borrow some money” and “Could they have a place to crash, just for one nite tho…lol”, we changed the locks on the door. There’s no “lol” about it.

From all this, I’ve learned that New York City can be a spiteful place. Be careful when you start to scoff at people whose faces are buried in a subway map. NYC will hear you acting like a big shot and NYC will show you who is boss. I got just a little too comfortable in the city, too big for my britches, if you will. Perhaps my first warning to tread carefully was when my computer was stolen at a midtown Starbucks. Or maybe it was when painters who were sent in to paint my apartment stole my old prom dresses, something I thought I’d never see happen. You can’t trust anyone!

However many red flags were raised, there was little we could do to see this coming. All of us involved in this scam have moved on. Literally movers are coming today. It’s in the past now. I’m sure the scammers have moved on too, and I look forward to hearing about these two morons in the future, because payback is a bitch. Oh and scammers, if you read this: Don’t bother coming back for your stuff. If you’re going to rob over ten people of +$2000 each with a brainless smile on your face, don’t leave all your clothes at said loft. Haiti says thanks!