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Saturday, Mar 25th

Last updateFri, 24 Mar 2017 3pm

You are here: Home Real Estate Scammed!
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Scammed!

A young couple and their extended family had a surprise encounter with two Scarsdale realtors on Superbowl Sunday, causing the couple to quickly realize they were the victims of a sinister scheme.

Realtors Anne Moretti and Janice Rothman had scheduled an open house at 956 Post Road on Sunday to give potential buyers a look at the home. Armed with balloons and open house signs, they pulled up to the house to find a Penske moving truck and a large group of people unloading possessions into the home. Perplexed, Ms. Moretti, the listing agent for the house, asked the family why they were on the premises. To her surprise they claimed that they had rented the home from the owner and were now moving in.

Moretti immediately got on the phone to the homeowner, Mr. Johannes Elsevier, who confirmed that the house was not for rent and that he had not entered into a rental agreement with anyone. She summoned the police who arrived to intervene. David Arena, who was in the process of moving into the home explained that he had found the listing for the home on Craig’s List and emailed Thomas Peter who identified himself as the owner. Arena was instructed to wire $3,000, which was the first month’s rent and a security deposit, to Mr. Peter in Logos, Nigeria. When the monies were received he received the house key in the mail.

But how did this so called “Mr. Peter” get access to a key? Police questioned Elsevier, who now lives in a nursing home in Mt. Vernon. Elsevier told them that he leaves a house key in the shed on a string so that the cleaning lady and handymen can get in. Sure enough, when Moretti checked the shed she found a string, but no key!

Arena’s wife showed police copies of the emails and Western Union wire transfer receipts and the Scarsdale Police instructed them to file a report with the Stamford, Ct. police where they currently live with Arena’s parents. Police will investigate in the hope of recovering the couple’s $3,000 deposit. Moretti has changed the locks on the house and turned on the alarm to prevent any further mishaps.

When contacted, Arena explained that he was deeply embarrassed by the incident. His parents, cousins and wife’s family and friends had all assembled to help with the move, and it was a big shock and disappointment to all that they had been scammed. When contacted, Arena said, “thank God for our family … if it wasn’t for them we would be living in our car.”

If anyone knows of a reasonably-priced rental available in Scarsdale, please contact the site at scarsdalecomments@gmail.com. Perhaps this heart-broken young couple can move here after all.

Comments   

0 #2 jerry h 2010-02-17 06:17
Do you know how many sweepstakes I have won and unclaimed bank accounts I have been offered from Lagos Nigeria. It always amazes me that people wire money to these locations.
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0 #1 Jonathan Lerner 2010-02-09 06:15
Always sorry to hear this type of story, but actually it is more common than one would think.
Back in July 2009, Realtors were issued a warning from the FBI about Nigerian con artists. Currently in our office at Engel & Voelkers we monitor our listings on other websites, such as Craigslist, to prevent this type of event from occurring.

According to the FBI report, you should only deal with landlords who are local. Be suspicious if you're asked to use a wire transfer service to send cash. Beware of e-mail correspondence from the "landlord" that's written in poor English. And never give out personal financial information, like your Social Security number, bank account information, phone number, current address, or credit history or score.

Jonathan Lerner
Managing Director
Engel & Voelkers Scarsdale Real Estate
300 Heathcote Road - Scarsdale NY
+1-914-723-5555
www.engelvoelkers.com/scarsdale
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