So my story is this I recently got accepted to Graduate School at a university in NYC. I was very excited to embark on my journey in NYC as a new resident. I had heard so many stories about New York and as an international student from Nigeria, I was thrilled to be part of the busy people strutting down the streets. I started searching for an apartment to live in because I had to find a place before my spring semester 2017 start date. After about two months of looking through Street easy, Naked Apartments, Airbnb, Facebook and even Craigslist I became very worried because I could not find anything. All the places I had found were either ridiculously expensive, too small, or looked rundown. So I asked all my friends what to do I got many suggestions which I acted on. I put out an ad on Craigslist that I was looking for a place. After about two weeks I received an email from a lady Justina Williams. She said she was trying to sublet her one bedroom apartment in East Village for $1600 a month all utilities included. Of course, I was in disbelief and very wary at first, it all seemed too good to be true. So I asked her to send me pictures on her private email, and a number that I could contact her on, which she did. The apartment looked like my dream NYC apartment. I called her to ask for a viewing because I wanted to see it with my own eyes to make sure she was not sending fake pictures for another apartment. We agreed on a date and time, I showed up to the address she gave me with my friend. The apartment looked exactly like the pictures she sent to me which made me ecstatic. She was very nice, she talked a lot about her husband Frankie Williams a “supposed” cop and how they found a two-bedroom apartment they were moving into. That they wanted to find someone to quickly take over their lease because they did not want to pay rents for two places or break their lease. She asked me a lot of questions about myself, where I was from, what I am interested in, so she could get to “know” me better. After our meeting, she told me that I was had to go through a credit check. I told her that I was an international student so I did not have an SSN or credit and asked if a guarantor will do. She said that was okay I should provide her with 3 recent pay stubs, 2 years tax returns, w’2, and 2 recent bank statements. I was worried because she was asking me for so many documents. So I looked online to see what documents agents, landlords, and brokers asked for from tenants, and it was similar to what she asked for. So I moved on with it and sent her all the documents. She then told me that I had to pay $100 for credit check, $500 for security hold, $1600 first month’s rent, and $1600 last month’s rent for security deposit.

At this point, I was so emotional, tired, scared and over everything. She added me on facebook, I signed the sublease agreement, then I gave her the money in cash so stupid of me. Of course, at the time I was not really thinking that I could possibly be scammed because she seemed really sweet and nice. I told her I would be moving in Jan 11th because I would not be in the country till then because I had to go back home to get my visa. She said that was fine, inspections to the apartment will be done two weeks before I moved in and I’ll be informed. She gave me the keys to the apartment, I made sure they were working on the door then I locked it myself, then we all departed on our ways. She texted me that it was nice meeting me and she hopes I like the apartment. So I arrived at JFK late that Saturday night and took a Lyft to the apartment. Ryan had already set up my bed, and dining table for me, he even bought me flowers to compliment my new apartment. I checked my email and saw that Justina emailed me that she will come in on Monday to change the locks and give me a new set of keys. Sunday I started buying things for the apartment to make it cute. Monday morning comes I texted Justina on Ryan phone asking when she was going to be at the apartment. She replied telling me to call her, which I did. On the phone, she talked about how she is still not back in New York that she was going to call a locksmith to come change the locks and give me news keys. The locksmith shows up while trying to change the lock one of the workers in the building called the boss to inform him. So the boss asked to speak to me, I told him that I was a sublessor. That is when he told me I was scammed, he said I need to be out of the apartment as soon as possible and he was coming over with the cops.

Twenty minutes later I hear cops siren outside my window, then a knock on my door. When the police knocking on my door, I confirmed I was scammed out of $3800 in NYC. After going back and forth with the cops for thirty minutes, I reported the Justina lady to the cops, gave a description of her and all the information I had on her. The cops told me that the only thing I could do was have a civil sue against her to get my money back. I agreed with the cops and management that I’ll be out the apartment the next morning. The cops left and I cried so much that I couldn’t feel my face. In distraught I explained everything to my day, he calmed me down and was understanding. He told me not to worry just to pack up my things and leave the next morning So that’s it now I am out of a place, sleeping at my friends and going to school from hers till I can find a new spot. Back to square 1, the moral of my story is first do not ever use craigslist because that site is the full with scammers and evil people. Second, do not trust anyone even if they seem nice and sweet because they might be doing horrible things to you without you have any clue. Make sure to always do your primary research. Ask for a card so you can do more research on the person privately before making any decisions or giving away $3800 to a scammer.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. ghadeeralsh4 says:

    This is CRAZY!!!!! I really don’t know how to express my feelings specially when you first told me the story. But this is a life lesson to you to pay more attention of who and what you are dealing with. I really wish you the best in your next option:(

    1. kimberlyo1 says:

      I know right. What a huge culture shock, things are going well now, though. I was able to find a place with a real estate agent.

  2. reemkulaib says:

    I feel sorry for what happened. I understand it the worst thing could happen to any international students, but next time don’t buy the rent cash always use check. At least that could help the police to follow the money trail, and find the person. I really hope the police will catch this woman.

    1. kimberlyo1 says:

      Thanks for informing me. Definitely learned my lesson with this one.

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