Skip to content


“Roommate” 419 Scam

Here’s an interesting form of advance fee fraud I hadn’t heard of before; it’s a good example of 419 scammers ruining yet another casual online marketplace.

Let’s say you have a room you want to rent. You put up a “housemate wanted” ad on Craigslist or wherever. Here’s the the reply you’ll get:

Hi There,

How re you doing? I hope all is well. I’m martha Robot , am 26 yrs old and Am originally from chester united Kingdom . Graduate of I have a master degree in fashion design and I work as a professional fashion designer. I’m am not in the united kingdom right now, i am presently in West africa . I am currently working on contract for a company call (African Family Home Fashions) here in West Africa which the contract will be ending soon. I will be returning to your place soon. I enjoy traveling, It is very interesting to get more knowledge about the new countries, new people and traditions. It’s great to have such a possibility. As i was searching through the web i saw the advert of your place . I would like to know maybe it’s still available becasue i’m extremely interested in it. Here are the questions i would like to know about the room before planing to move in to the following questions below:

A}I will like to know the major intersection nearest your shopping mall,Churches,bus line e.t.c

B}I will like to know the total cost for the my initial move as in first month rent and if you accept deposit.

C}I will like to know if there is any garage or parking space cos I will have my own car come over.

D}I will like to have the rent fee per month plus the utilities.

E}I will like to have the description of the place, size, and the equipments in there.

F}I will also like to know Your payment mode.

G}I will like to know if I can make an advance payment ahead my arrival that will be stand as a kind of commitment that I am truely coming over and for you to hold the place down for me.

I will be very glad to have all this questions answered with out leaving a stone unturned…You can Call my Landlord for more references in UK ..+447024046815.

Email me back:

Thanks. Martha.

Needless to say, this is a scam. Here’s how it works (courtesy of this post): The interested “applicant” will send a cashier’s check or money order for the deposit, the value of which greatly exceeds the actual amount requested. They will then claim the overpayment to be an honest error based on their confusion about how these things work, and ask the victim to send back a money order refunding that amount, or to send it on to a “travel agent” who is supposedly booking the scammer’s flight. The payment will be made via a non-refundable mechanism like the 419er’s favourite, Western Union. It will be a matter of great urgency, as they will claim to need the funds to make the trip over. Her money order will clear, their’s will not — and there’s no way to refund the payment, so it’s gone. This is a classic advance-fee fraud trick, it seems.

Got to love that nom de plume, though — “Martha Robot”. GREE-TINGS MAR-THA RO-BOT!

Googling for ‘major intersection nearest your neighbourhood’ churches bus finds plenty more:

Finally, a Washington-based realtor has written up a good walkthrough of the scam. He notes:

I recently ran an ad on to see if they were still working it. Craigslist has posted many warnings against responding to such solicitations and I was curious if the scammers had moved on to more fertile ground. They have not; I received 16 such inquiries in one day to a simple ad offering a room for rent in Bellevue. I used a fictitious identity and a newly created email address. I’ll use the emails from just one of them as an example. This particular scammer managed to have a check on my doorstep by the next day!

(thanks to nimbus9 for the headsup)