A lovely young gal (Seleda Wilson, 28) who was studying abroad getting her Master's in Microbiology was the first to respond to the ad. Was the room still available? Yes, and please tell me about what you are looking for. Following was a compelling story of how she was born in Paris, her mother was French, she went back over to France to study but is now moving home to America. Tidy, low key, loves kids, just looking for a quiet place to land and get her feet underneath her. If I could please send my contact info to her father, he would contact me and make financial arrangements. Hey, batter, batter--great odds. Such a plausible request, I gave her my contact info: name, addy, email, cell phone.
I proceeded onto the next email. Strangely It was almost identically worded. The name (Tamica Baliano) and age (25) were different, this one was studying in Spain and was born in Orlando. I suggested that Tamica give me her father's address so I could contact him, and immediately went to find my nearest foil hat. We're in production, thankfully, and there are a lot to choose from. I never heard back from her.
I took the kids to school, went to the gym and came home to find a car full of four Russian guys in their mid-twenties parked about two lots down from my house. This is not a desitnation or passthrough neighborhood, not someplace you'd do a quick pull over while you take a critical call. With my spy goggles on, I looked out a super secret window upstairs to keep tabs on the car. It left about 20 minutes later. A sigh of relief. I puttered productively and then went to pick the kids up from school. The car was back but this time it had just two guys in it. Now I AM a yellow belt in TKD, but even I felt a little hair standing up on my neck. I looked in the car as I passed it on the way to the kids--the driver looked right back at me. It felt icky. Rounding the corner leaving the neighborhood, I called 9-1-1.
Bolstered by the dispatchers assessment that it probably was a set up and a patrol car was on its way, I turned around, drove back around the corner, and parked in the middle of the street so that I could see their license plate and read it off to the dispatcher. I had just gotten to the end, when they figured out what I was doing and zoomed off. Next day a different car. Naturally I gave a play by play on Facebook in the event that I disappear. At that point I took my emails to the police station and was given contact info for the FBI internet fraud investigation club. www.i3c.gov.
I got a text that I could receive $1900 in a single day (my phone number is new); I got another email thanking from the first Seleda Wilson thanking her for the pictures (which I never sent) and asking me to do her a favor. Her dad was sending me a check to deposit into my account and then a car dealer would contact me to arrange the pickup of her car. I emailed back, "There is no way I am depositing money from you. I don't even know you and the room has been rented." Today a check came via FedEx and I rejected it. If I hadn't received that second email from Tamica, I totally would have fallen for this.