Beware of Craigslist Fraud and Chico CA Rentals!!


Craigslist fraud.  Who are the victims?


I posted an ad on Craigslist last week for  a wonderful home I have listed at 2617 Lakewest Drive in California Park, Chico CA.  The house is FOR SALE with a listing price of $342,000.

2617 Lakewest Drive Chico, CA  CALIFORNIA PARK neighborhood!

Some industrious individual STOLE  my photos of the home, my description of the property, my name, my  personal photo, and my phone number to create a flyer advertising the house as a rental.   He or she added this email address:  [email protected], which is not mine, but certainly looks like it could be mine.

Why the person used my phone number, I’ll never know.  But thanks to that ingenious inclusion, I must have received an additional 150 phone calls over two days time.  My phone already rings off the hook day and night, so the increased volume almost put me over the edge.  My apology goes out to the many individuals that did not receive a return call from me.  I simply could not keep up with the volume.

The lovely homeowners of 2617 Lakewest witnessed a constant stream of cars stopping to pull flyers from the box located on the yard sign, and people gawking at their house.  They eventually resorted to posting a big sign out there stating that the house was not for rent.

Many potential renters replied to the email address provided.  After an email or two exchanged, “Sandi Bauman” sent them this letter:

Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2009, 10:54 PM

Attn Applicant,
Thanks for your email and interest in renting my house. I am Sandi Bauman, the owner of the house you are making enquiry of. Actually I did reside in the house with my family, my husband and my only daughter before and presently we have moved out due to my official job transfer or posting, whatever you may call it, which has now found me in Warsaw, Poland. Presently my house is still available for rent for $850 USD per month (which includes utilities), though i intended selling it off but on a later thought changed my mind and have decided putting it on rent. More so now, I’m currently in Lagos, Nigeria for an international Christian follower’s crusade taking place at the Nigeria national stadium, by one Pastor Chris of the Christ Embassy Ministry.
I want you to understand that I spent a lot on my property that you have requested to rent, so I will solicit for your absolute maintenance of this house and would want you to treat it as your own because cleanliness they say is next to Godliness. It is not all about the money to be paid on rent or spent; it is all about a good maintenance culture which I want you to adopt on the property. I want you to keep it tidy all the time so that I would be full of smiles whenever I come and above all, a good, strong and tight relationship between us when I come for a check up. Please one more thing, I wouldn’t like to have any benefit of trust in you because I want to stand in your words that the property would be well taken care of all the time.
Here is the address of the House again: 2617 Lakewest Drive, Chico CA 95928 as to really see how lovely it is if from only the pictures you saw in my posting compare to the 100% comfort to be derived from it as an occupant.
It has a dramatic entry foyer with ceramic floor. Extremely spacious rooms throughout with lots of big windows…nice and light! New neutral paint and some newer carpet. Very quiet, low traffic area. New fridge (7/07)…I believe it’s absolutely a perfect home for you and your family. Utilities include Water, Trash, Sewer, Gas etc.
FIRST NAME:__________
MIDDLE NAME:__________
LAST NAME:__________
PHONE: _______________
KIDS _____ (YES/NO), HOW MANY ________
PRESENT ADDRESS: _____________________
CITY: _______________
ZIP CODE: ____________
IF YOU HAVE A PET: _________
NAME OF PET: _____________
KIND OF PETS: _____________
HABITS: ___________
DO YOU SMOKE ______________
DO YOU DRINK ______________
Looking forward to hearing from you with all this details so that I can present it to my family, pray over it (because I consult the Almighty God before making any decision) and if accepted, and then have them stored in my file in case of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you. Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the keys to you, please we are giving you all this based on trust and again I will want you to stick to your words, you know that we are very far apart now and only putting everything into God’s hands and hope that you will not let us down.
The house will be available for rent for a period of five and a half years so you have a choice of deciding how long you intend staying there… Here is my number 011-234-803-080-9184 or +234-011-803-080-9184, I will be expecting to hear from you.  Feel free to call me for more information and arrangements.
God Bless,
Sandi Bauman

Not only have I never been to Poland or Nigeria, I cringe at the thought of people actually believing that I could write in a manner that sounds like I am a foreigner with a questionable grasp on the English language.

Those renters that actually filled out the application received this response:


Thanks for getting back to me with the completed Rental Application
Form and i must let you know that i bless the minute you picked
interest to rent my house and consider it a huge blessing on my path
from God and yes, i have put it in pray that God will give me a
responsible and God fearing person to rent my house and also one that
walks in his ways and precepts and i can’t thank him enough for
bringing us together. Well, I just want to let you know that we have
decided that you rent our house, as we have found your application
very satisfactory and acceptable. So we would want you to go through
this email and get back to us on what you feel so we could proceed in
renting the house to you…

We will be sending the following documents to you via UPS to the
contact address you sent to us and also with the tracking number with
which the UPS service will operate, as to enable you pick up the House
Keys / Documents from their office over there in order to have a full
access into the house. Please once again, i want to trust you and i
hope you do not disappoint us and I promise you that, you will love
the house and not only that,you will also enjoy a good relationship
between us.

The following documents are here with us as I couldn’t find anyone
whom i could trust to drop them with for this purpose. But never mind,
the UPS service will do for that.

In doing this, you will need to make a security deposit payment which
is refundable (should incase you don’t like the house) to enable you
secure the house and also,the shipment of the Keys and document to
your current address that i have here in the rental form, after which
you could move in at your convenience. The rent starts counting after
24 hours of moving in, you will be required to make the first month
rental fees.

Here are the contents of the Parcel that Will be sent.

1) Entrance and the rooms Keys
2) Paper/Permanent house form
3) The house documentary file.
4) Full Description of the house
5) Payment Receipt

I will be receiving the security deposit of $850 from you via Western
Union because l think it reliable, secured and fast, and moreover, my
Christian team and I, got into Nigeria just few weeks back and we have
been trying to settle down for our purpose. This has made it difficult
for me to set up a bank account here for transaction like this. But
never mind, I will be setting up one (Joint Account, for us) with the
security deposit by July/August for future rental payments.

With respect to this acceptance, i will be waiting to hear from you as
to proceed with the delivery arrangements.

Thanks and Remain Blessed

Please…   if you are looking for a Chico CA rental, exercise caution.

Kudos to those of you that called my number or the number off the yard sign to see if I was really out of the country!  Try to keep in mind that if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.  This house was advertised at $850 per month, when homes on the same block rent for as much as $2200 per month!

Sandi Bauman (Chico Homes): Real Estate Agent in Chico, Butte County, California
Tomato University Graduate Real Estate Tomato

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