Blogger Finds Own Apartment Listed On Craigslist

A stranger called Beth. He knew where she lived in Manhattan, in the upper West side. He knew Beth had a fireplace in her bedroom. Beth’s apartment was not for rent, but the caller saw an ad on Craigslist saying it was. Beth did not place this ad.

After investigation, Beth found someone was running a version of the 419, or “advance fee,” scam, using Beth’s name, address, and photos of her apartment gleaned from her blog…

When Beth asked Beth to see the apartment, Beth said said she was in Fremont, CA and could not show it. When Beth asked if a super or a friend could show it, Beth offered to overnight the keys, after Beth moneygrams $1500. If Beth didn’t like it, Beth would send her money back.

When she asked to speak to Beth, Beth said, “I would love to speak with you by phone but I can’t because I’m a deaf-mute person and I am teaching in CA for a deaf-mute school.”

Beth has no recourse except to ask Craigslist to remove the ad every time it goes up.

She searched far for an agency to take up her complaint and the only one who will is The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), co-sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).

Be careful what you reveal about yourself online. People can aggregate it and masquerade as you. Honesty may be in vogue, but that needn’t extend to your personal details, like address, phone number, and pictures of your apartment. — BEN POPKEN

Web of Lies [3 Quarks Daily] (Thanks to Omri!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. kcskater says:

    Note to Abbas: Deaf people have phones too. They have TTY, which allows them to type to a relay person. The relay can then speak on a voice phone. It’s a free service. Keep poking holes in the story and keep us updated!

  2. acambras says:

    Yeah, this is a little off-topic, but I didn’t think deaf people used the term “deaf-mute” anymore. I thought it had fallen out of favor like “colored.” So either Beth is masquerading as a “deaf-mute” to avoid a phone conversation, or she’s not very politically correct.

  3. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Would they hire a deaf-mute to teach other deaf-mutes? Not to sound like a jerk, but wouldn’t that be like the blind leading the blind?

  4. DeeJayQueue says:

    See if you can retrace her email and find out who “she” is and then list “her” house for sale on craigslist. Funny.

  5. crnkyman says:

    Can we get off the “deaf-mute” stuff? I’m pretty sure Abbas already had a solid sense that something was amiss.

  6. cindel says:

    AlteredBeast, yes you do sound like a jerk. Let’s see why don’t you ask Gallaudet University where the professors and students are deaf.

    Who uses the term “deaf-mute” anymore?

  7. kcskater says:

    AlteredBeast, deaf schools have a great number of deaf professors and teachers. Who better to teach young deaf students than someone who has been deaf their whole life? A good friend of mine is an interpreter. She went to NTID@RIT and had a great number of deaf teachers even though she is hearing. Being deaf isn’t as debilitating as people think.

  8. How funny. I, too, have been acquainted by the fine lessors at the Fremont deaf-mute school. I spotted an ad on backpage, and later on craigslist, for a huge 2 br in a luxury building on 6th and 23rd listed for $1300. The opporunity to play with poor English speaking scammers was far too much and I emailed.

    Not long into our exchange, I noticed that Douglas Elliman had the SAME apartment listed, only theirs was $3600. But, you know, “Staci” was just trying to sublet so she could stay in Fremont. Her parents were, of course, in Europe, and there was no management at this huge luxury building that could let me in.

    I even sent her a link to the Doulgas Elliman listing with an “OMG, LOL! Look at this! Wow, these idiots want THREE TIMES as much for the SAME apartment.” She totally didn’t get it. And I lost interest.

    When I pressed for some ID, she did send a NY State Driver’s License of some poor girl named Staci who obviously had a little too much fun in a bar and left her wallet somewhere.

  9. SpecialK says:

    Way to stay focused guys. Any other politically-correct hot-button topics I should know about?

    Has Abbas tried simply using death threats or some such?

  10. AcilletaM says:

    My question: Is this a better deal than what he was paying?

  11. Josh Michtom says:

    OK, I know this is tangential, but I want some clarification: Some people can hear but not talk – they’re mute. Some people can talk but not hear – they’re deaf. Some people can do neither – they’re deaf-mute. Right? I thought that “deaf-mute” meant something different than “deaf” or “mute,” so it was rare but not offensive. Am I wrong? If so, what term do we now use to indicate that a person can neither speak nor hear?

  12. Seerauber Jenny says:

    This is a little off-topic, but just as you shouldn’t reveal too much about yourself online, you should never assume that online information about other people is accurate.

    Last year I was looking at my supposedly confidential online college directory and was quite surprised to find listed an address and phone number that weren’t mine. Seems that somebody in the alumni office decided I was lost, did a web search, found details for another person with my surprisingly common name and just assumed it was me.

    Although they were appropriately apologetic, I was still very pissed off.

  13. Who uses the term “deaf-mute” anymore?

    Beth the fraudster referred to herself as “deaf-mute”. I think AlteredBeast was just asking an honest question.

  14. Ben Popken says:

    I write the blog using a straw and puffs of air.

  15. AcilletaM says:

    I comment using binary.

  16. synergy says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how much people put up there for anyone to read. They seem to think they’re the only one who will see it. *boggle*

    If I want to share something about me, such as pics or my and my husband’s personal name, I lock up my blog so only the people I choose can see it.

  17. isadora says:

    Who in the hell would give someone $1500 to LOOK at an apartment? That’s insane. Sometimes I have trouble feeling bad for folks that get scammed but, really, WHO would do that?

    And I have pics of my apartment on a blog I keep for our friends and family. We moved out of state and don’t live near folks and I get great feedback on it from my not-so-nearest but dearest.

    Now I hope someone stops by and offers me more for it than I currently pay for my place because I got a great deal on it and would move if it meant extra income to fake sublet it!

  18. They seem to think they’re the only one who will see it.

    I think some people realize others will see it but think they they won’t care: that unless it’s someone who recognizes them, they’ll just keep on going.

  19. Kornkob says:

    No matter how ‘locked up’ something is if it is accessible via the internet then compromise is possible and those once ‘private’ pictures can suddenly be open to the world. It takes only a short time of exposure for that data to be enshrined on archive servers for antiquity.

  20. Amy Alkon says:

    I read that people in Nigeria have “this house is not for sale” marked on their homes so as to prevent them from being “sold” in 419 scams.

  21. Labeling oneself as deaf-mute is no more politically incorrect than somebody labeling oneself as blind as opposed to “Visually Impaired”. Some people argue semantics but I suspect that most people who fall under the category of deaf-mute aren’t quite so thin-skinned.

    There are two subsets of the deaf culture, there is so-called Deaf culture (note the capital d, which is important) which is made up of a minority of hearing impaired people who don’t consider themselves to be impaired at all. They consider themselves to be a subset of a cultural identity and take great offense to people labeling them as disabled. Following that is the general population of deaf people who strive to integrate into the mainstream, and are occasionally looked down upon by their Deaf culture counterparts.

    It’s a fascinating dichotomy, you can read about some of it here on Wikipedia:

  22. Products Will Save Me says:

    Bethan Bevan is the name of a character on Very Annie Mary, a shitty movie starring Rachel Griffiths… it was on the other night.

  23. curlyheatherg says:

    I once stumbled across my own apartment listed on craigslist. Turns out the landlord hired a sketchy broker who just let herself in one day, took pictures, and didn’t ask if/when we were going to leave! If we weren’t already planning to move this would have done it, because I was ripshit. Nothing quite like finding pictures of your apartment on the internets. My heart goes out to this guy.

  24. Uurp says:

    Beloved one,

    Greetings of the season. Hours of enjoyment!

  25. acambras says:


    That’s pretty interesting, because I know people in the Deaf community who find the term “hearing impaired” offensive. According to people I’ve talked with, the preferred terms are “deaf” and “hard of hearing.” (And yes, capital D when speaking of Deaf culture.)

  26. acambras:

    The whole issue of deaf-mute being so insensitive is it arose from a time when deaf people were considered a hopeless cause to ever be taught how to speak, which dovetails into the also old-style usage of “deaf and dumb”.

    You’re right to an extent that it’s probably more offensive than blind versus visually impaired, or black versus African American, but Deaf culture is still in the minority of Deaf people overall. The average deaf person who is is unlikely to go apeshit over the innocent use of the term deaf-mute, but is likely to gently remind you that it has fallen out of modern use.

  27. acambras:

    I wrote up a good reply but I’m afraid it was the eaten by the consumerist comment eating troll (and may be regurgitated some hours later). Summarized it basically came down to this: People in the Deaf culture are the minority of people who are deaf overall. Deaf-mute is an antiquated term much like “deaf and dumb” but a deaf person is unlikely to go nuts, but instead gently remind the person using the term that it’s out of fashion.

    So I guess technically that’s a partial recant of what I said before. *corrected self*

  28. bah… *hits head on wall*

  29. jazzy says:

    most. boring. comment. thread. ever.

    i come here for laughs kids…

  30. jwilbur says:

    Ben – I’m pretty sure this didn’t happen to Abbas – it actually happened to a woman named Beth Ann Bovino (who is now a guest columnist at 3quarks). That explains the part of her post where she talks about “trying to get her good name back.” Sort of makes the whole thing creepier.

  31. acambras says:

    @jazzy —


    Of course we need a cat photoshopped into the picture.

    Is that better? ;-)

  32. SteveA says:

    Question is, does this person actually have a key? Either way, I’d get a new lock set for the door, and obviously contact whomever actually owns the building to let them know and take care of it if they care. But definitely change the locks.

    Then ignore it. Cause if this person does not legally own the building theres no reason to bother.

  33. Ben Popken says:

    I contacted Abbas and he says it was actually Beth. I was initially confused because it said “Posted by Abbas” and I assumed it was some sort of metajoke…i.e. it happened to Abbas but the fraudster went by Beth so Abbas credited Beth as the author and went about inventing a persona for her on 3QD. Turns out he posted it on her behalf. Ah well, back to my spy novels.

  34. Kornkob says:

    When Beth asked Beth to see the apartment, Beth said said she was in Freemont, CA and could not show it. When Beth asked if a super or a friend could show it, Beth offered to overnight the keys, after Beth moneygrams $1500. If Beth didn’t like it, Beth would send her money back. Did someone do some creative editing?

    Beth appears to been having a rather surreal conversation with… Beth.

  35. These last two comment have really caused my brain to swirl.

    I need to start reading earlier in the day as I have been resorting to commenting on other people’s comments. Which is pretty pathetic, but I wanted to let everyone know that Altered_Beast’s comment was wickedly funny and if you are not deaf OR blind OR mute and complained about how offensive it was, maybe you could well, I dunno.. eat a bag of dick? Hah, I kill me.

    Where did this whole culture of ‘protecting’ the minorities or the ‘disabled’ come from? Any person whom has made it to adulthood can probably fend for themselves. We dont need any goody two shoes championing an unknown cause for another’s benefit. Lets not say those descriptive words, the people that those words describe could possibly be offended. This still falls under the same type of behaviour that repdefenders was representing, just in a different form. Doesnt anyone else get it?

    Lets change the language that describes the truth just because the language has picked up some negative connotations. Jeez, okay I think I am done ranting now.

  36. infinitysnake says:

    You misspelled “Fremont.” (I should know)

  37. gwai lo says:


    Acambras that is hilarious. Someone please do photoshop this.

  38. synergy says:

    That’s why you don’t write down passwords, give them to anyone, and you change them every so often into something long and annoying to remember. Which I do. Because I’m paranoid.

  39. Kornkob says:

    Passwords do help and changing them periodically makes it even better but the fact is that server software can be compromised. Change all the passwords you want– some script kiddie fiogures out that yoru web host hasn’t kept some piece of software on your server up to date and he’s in looking at yoru pictures.

    For the average joe: If you have something you don’t want read/seen by everyone then don’t share it on the internet, regardless of what locks, passwords or other security your host has promised you have.

  40. TWinter says:

    @ Josh Michtom

    Some people can hear but not talk – they’re mute. Some people can talk but not hear – they’re deaf. Some people can do neither – they’re deaf-mute. Right?

    I think the number of people who can hear but not talk is extremely small.

    As far as the deaf are concerned, I’ve usually heard it expressed in terms of vocalization – Tom vocalizes but Jim doesn’t.

    As far as the background is concerned, the people who can talk but not hear are either people who became deaf after learning to talk as children or deaf people who were taught using oralist methods through which they were taught to make speech sounds even though they couldn’t hear them. Oralist methods have fallen out of favor these days and Deaf culture tends to regard oralist teaching as only slightly better than child abuse, so the numbers of non-hearing but speaking are in decline. (I think characterizing oralist teaching as child abuse is a bit extreme, but even supporters admit that it is a very long and extremely frustrating experience for deaf kids and most of them aren’t very good even after years of training.) People who can’t hear and don’t talk were born deaf and were never taught to vocalize.

    @something amazing
    What makes you say that Deaf culture is a minority attitude among the deaf? My impression was rather the opposite, that most deaf people were pretty involved and informed about Deaf politics, culture, etc… Maybe it’s just the people I know.

  41. ndavies says:

    If someone wants to sell the ugly rug in my dining room, there are pictures up on my flickr site.