Friends, I was almost that person you hear about on the news and think, “how could someone be so stupid to get caught up in a Craigslist scam??” Hi, nice to meet you. I was (and maybe still am a little bit?) a victim of a Craigslist scam.
It started so innocent. I was just looking for a part time job so I could make some extra money. We just bought a house and turns out I have champagne taste on a beer budget when it comes to house decorating. I found an ad on Craigslist (my first mistake, I know) posted by a man named Marcus who was looking for part-time nanny/babysitting help. We exchanged several emails back and forth, chatted on the phone, and I was pretty convinced this was going to be a great gig.
Marcus said he currently lived in Zurich, Switzerland with his wife and two sons. He worked for BMW, and they were moving him to North Carolina permanently. His wife was a fashion designer and was currently touring Europe doing fashion shows. They were very busy so having some extra help with the kids and house would be wonderful. He told me the address they would be moving to on July 25th, so naturally I looked it up on Zillow to see what kind of home these seemingly well-off folks would be moving into.
Well-off turned out to be a drastic understatement. Their new home was nearly $2 million, 7,000 square feet, and was designed by a man who has done renovations on parts of the White House.
Dollar signs appeared in my eyes and I saw flashes of what my life would be like with this family. Touring Greece and Sweden, wearing high-fashion garments and gold-rimmed glasses, driving a brand new, limited edition BMW every year. I would lounge by the pool with two perfectly-behaved Swedish boys while our butler would feed us Swedish Fish and Lingonberry sodas.
Everything felt like a dream come true, I was finally getting the break I deserved. I was giddy, right up until I got an email from Marcus that shot up the red flags. And fast.
“Courtney, I will make out a payment (Cashiers check) of $2900 to you via FedEx. We expect you to hire some house cleaners to have the house cleaned up, you might also need to purchase some few items like groceries before we arrive, however, the rest of the funds goes to the real estate agent. I have made it clear to the agent that you will make payment for his balance on my behalf so he will send you the keys to the house so you can get it ready before our arrival. I will need your response asap. Note: I need you to send me your full names and correct mailing address.”
Isaac and I re-read the email several times and I offered up, “maybe it’s a cultural difference? Maybe he doesn’t know how weird this all sounds?” But deep down I knew something was wrong. Isaac emailed the listing agent of the home he was supposedly buying to see if it was under contract, and if it happened to be with an international family.
While waiting for a response from the realtor, I responded to Marcus’ strangely urgent email with 10 questions that were very specific about what exactly he wanted me to do for his family. I also asked him to send me a family photo. He promptly responded with answers to about half of my questions, and no photo. As if we needed more proof, the realtor responded to Isaac and confirmed that the house was not under contract, it was still very much an active listing.
This dirt bag was somehow trying to scam me with either a cashier’s check (a popular scam right now) or some type of identity theft scheme. I instantly felt sick to my stomach because Marcus did have a pretty decent amount of my personal information, but hopefully not enough to do any real damage. Just in case, I put a fraud alert out to all three credit bureaus. All day at work I stewed over this, and while my better judgement told me to ignore him and not poke a sleeping bear, I just couldn’t help myself. People like “Marcus” really piss me off, and I needed to mess with him a little bit if for no other reason than to help pull my ego out of the gutter.
I decided I had to troll the troll. He had asked me again to please send him my address, so I responded with the following:
I’m great, thanks! So I do feel the need to disclose something about myself. I have some cannibal tendencies, and while they are mostly under control, sometimes I do have urges. I’ve been working with a specialist who has gotten me to a really great place, but she has told me that cannibalism isn’t something that just goes away. It stays with you for life. Will that be a problem? But don’t worry, I have a 5-step program I go through in my head every time I’m having an urge. It goes as follows:
1. People are not food. PEOPLE ARE NOT FOOD.
2. Skin looks tasty, skin looks fine, but take a bite and you’ll do time
3. Good job Courtney, you’re doing great. Smell and touch, but do not taste
4. DISTRACT yourself. Write a poem, go for a walk, drink some water. Make sure the water is either VERY hot or VERY cold. The water CANNOT be 98 degrees as it will be too close to the temperature of blood, and that may trigger more cravings
5. Good job! You have successfully gotten through another cannibal craving. Go buy yourself a treat, superstar!
Other than that everything is pretty squeaky clean about me. The only other minor issue is that I do have leprosy…weird, right? I thought that was a thing of the Bible times, but apparently you can still get it! I’m on medication though, so it shouldn’t spread to your sweet children. If it does, we could just wrap your big new home in plastic and we could all live together as one big bubble family!!!!! I’ve always wanted to live in a bubble. We could scratch each other’s lesions and drain puss from each other’s wounds. Oh my gosh, I’m getting all tingly and itchy even thinking about it!
One time I went on this African safari and it was really neat, I got to see some rhinos and lions up close. Have you ever thought about how weird rhinos are? They are basically REAL LIFE DINOSAURS!!!!! They even have horns and stuff. Weird. I wonder what would hurt more, getting attacked by one thousand hamster-sized rhinos or one rhino-sized hamster? See, Marcus? THESE are the types of questions and insight I can bring to your family. Your sweet boys, Joshua and John, will be full of useful knowledge when I’m through with them. If we can make it past breakfast. HAHA! Just kidding. Cannibal humor. See? I also am really funny and easy to get along with.
Anyway, here is my mailing address. Can’t wait to setup your gorgeous new home for you. It sure is a doozie of a house, huh? Almost 7,000 square feet and $2 million. WHEW! You must be doing really well for yourself. I can’t tell you how excited I am to become a part of your family. We are a match made in heaven!!!! See you soon TTYL XOXOXOXOXO OMG LOL ROTFL totes.
(insert local police department address here)
Your move, ya filthy animal.
Here’s hoping my response freaked him out enough so that he’ll leave me alone and not try to steal my identity. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want any part of me at this point.