Rental Scammer Revenge: Zhang Shanrong

It started on Craigslist.  I was very discouraged by the current rental prices I saw as I looked for a new home for my expanding family, but found two or three that were plenty big, in great neighborhoods, and had unbelievable rates.  “Unbelievable” is, of course, the keyword.  “There are no such things as rental scams, are there?” I naively thought.  Oh, there are.  After getting responses from all of those places, I noticed they had several things in common: misspelled words, a story about how they had to leave the area before securing the status of their home (usually going from selling the place to deciding to rent), and often about how they are a “God-fearing” family.  First, I got mad.  Then, after about two days of sending out inquiries on listings from a couple other sites (mostly Zillow), and getting all the same kinds of responses, I decided to enjoy myself a little.  Now I’m sharing it with you.

This is a narrative through my conversation with Zhang Shanrong. Zhang was one of the first scammers that emailed me that I finally started to grasp what I wanted to do in retaliation.  All of the responses I got from Craigslist had this story about doing missionary work with US-AID in Nigeria, and how they were looking for a God-fearing family to take care of their home.  In my frustration I never responded and deleted the first few.  Well, then Zhang responded with the exact same story.  A few details were altered, but all the major points, like what US-AID does and work in Nigeria, were there.  Here is the email I got from Zhang:

From: Zhang Shanrong <zshanrong@yahoo.com>
To: Braden Bost
Sent: Monday, September 3, 2012 4:42 PM
Subject: Re: Duplex for rent

Thanks for your response and interest in our house.

The house is very much available and it is a large 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathroom house. Which was formally occupied by me and my family before we left for Nigeria for a pastoral duty with the US-AID, we left for a volunteer mission together with other missionaries for a development program with the aim of developing the people of West Africa physically and spiritually as God as directed us. We wanted to sale the house initially but we later changed our mind after we discovered that we wouldn’t be spending more than 5 years here in Africa.

Presently my lovely wife and i are on the missionary field with US-AID. US-AID as u know works in agriculture, democracy & governance, economic growth, the environment,education, health, global partnerships, and humanitarian assistance in more than 100 countries to provide a better future for all..

US-AID still faces an uncertain future. In many developing countries, HIV/AIDS and health issues are having a dramatic impact on social cohesiveness and economic strength, blocking the very development goals we seek. Virtually all the new democracies in the world today are fragile; others are democracies more in name than substance.. Nearly a quarter of the people living in developing countries, or about one billion people, live in absolute poverty.. There are a host of other threats – ranging from terrorism to infectious disease and violent conflict – that challenge us and the developing nations we seek to help. Here is US-AID Web address:-http://www.usaid.gov

US-AID efforts to foster world-wide economic growth and increased trade,and tackling cross-border issues such as the spread of HIV/AIDS and trafficking in persons.To safe the live of peoples from primitive death that claims the souls of younger ages as a result of casual sex gave us transfer to West Africa and we will be away for 5 years and this is why we are actually renting out house,so if you are interested and will take good care of our house then we will be ready to accept you as our future tenant and family friend.. If you really impress me by taking good care of our house then you will be allowed to stay as long as you wish.

This is the Address of the Single family house: 15061 Southeast 54th Place, Bellevue WA

So get back to me on how you could take care of our house or perhaps experience you have in renting home. Hope you are okay with the price of US$1000/month and $700 for security deposit with water, heat laundry facilities, air condition and so on. PETS ARE WELCOME!

I am looking forward to hear from you ASAP so that i can forward you an application to fill out and discuss on how to get the house , also are you ready to rent it now or when? Await your reply.

Best Regards

You can call me anytime at: (0112347026282089 or +2347026282089)

Note: the Rent is $1000 and security deposit is $700

Total Move In Cost:$1,700

Thanks and God bless you

 

Pastor Mr Zhang Shanrong

I could not get over the ridiculousness of multiple scammers using the same story in the same housing market.  So I decided to call him out on it–but be careful! You don’t want to chase him off just yet.

From: Braden Bost
To: Zhang Shanrong <zshanrong@yahoo.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 8:06 PM
Subject: Re: Duplex for rent

 

Hi!  I like the place and would be very happy to work with you.   Let me know what I need to do.

Also, there seem to be a LOT of people from the Seattle area that moved to Nigeria to assist in missionary work for US-AID.  I’ve sent inquiries on three other houses besides this one that turned out to be owned by people in this program.  Do you all know each other?  How come none of you secured renters before you left?  Did you get called out in a hurry?  Do you also provide religious services, since you call it “missionary work?” 

Just curious.

Zhang’s upcoming response made my heart sink at first.  It’s one thing to mess with a real scumbag on the other end of the ether, but it’s quite another to find out you’re dealing with a bot that responds to positive inquiries.  That’s what I thought I had–but note the PS, which he put in bold and a different font in his response and I almost missed.

On Sep 6, 2012, at 3:28 AM, Zhang Shanrong <zshanrong@yahoo.com> wrote:

The Peace and blessing of the lord be with your household.Thanks for the mail, It is good to hear from you with this detail.I want you to know that my house is ready for you to move in and i will need you to promise me that you will take good care of the house for us if you happen to move in as my tenant.The month rent is $1000 and the security deposit is $700,The Utilities are all included.

P.S: As for your questions,yes we know each other and we couldn’t secure renter cause our calling was very hurry OK.

[The standard-looking (but text-only) rental application was here; I’ve removed it to conserve space]

Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that i can have it 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 keys to you,please I am giving you all this base on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words,you know that we do not see yet and only putting everything into Gods hand,so please do not let me down in this property and God bless you more as you do this. You can move in with your pet.

Best Regards

Pastor Mr Zhang Shanrong

Maybe I’m a bit ridiculous for feeling this way, but seeing that post script was very exciting to me.  So I responded appropriately.

From: Braden Bost
To: Zhang Shanrong <zshanrong@yahoo.com>
Sent: Thursday, September 6, 2012 10:04 AM
Subject: Re: I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE RENT APPLICATIONS FORM BELOW

 

You do know them! That’s so neat! Well I hope you’re all doing well.

 Here’s the deal: you tell me their names and I’ll fill this out. Heck, if you do that, I’ll even throw in a $500 donation to your cause, directly to you, as it certainly seems worthy of it.It’s not that I don’t trust you–I mean, you’re *obviously* Christians–but I like to play little games like this sometimes.

 Looking forward to hearing back from you. Have a blessed day!

I have several other stories that I will post later, and that fact sadly means that there’s a reason this one’s first.  As many scammers do, Zhang did not want to respond to my inquiry.  So I had to prod.

On Sep 7, 2012, at 7:08 AM, Braden Bost wrote:

 

Zhang,

I was hoping to have an email this morning.   I know we’re working in very different time zones, what with you being in “Africa” and everything. 

So what do you say?  Ask your friends who also got an email from my email address, tell me their names, and if you’re right, I’ll know you’re legit and not using something like missionary aid to cover up a rental scam, and we’ll move forward.  And, as promised, I’ll even make a donation to US-AID in addition to sending you the fees for the rental.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

. . . and prod . . .

On Sep 8, 2012, at 6:55 AM, Braden Bost wrote:

I don’t want to push too hard. I mean, if you need a day or two to ask around and have your cohorts get back to you, just let me know. I’m not unreasonable–it’s not like I think you’ve been lying to me about owning the property and traveling to Africa and so forth.  That would be a terrible, horrible thing for anyone to do. Wouldn’t you agree, Zhang?

 

Sent from my iPad

. . . and prod . . .

On Sep 8, 2012, at 6:14 PM, Braden Bost wrote:

Hey Zhang. Still waiting.  Looking forward to hearing your response . . . I’m sure it’ll be a great read. Everything so far has been.

 

Sent from my iPad

. . . but Zhang didn’t want to play.  What I had noticed, though, through other conversations I had going on with other scammers simultaneously, is their odd tendency to “forget” the fact that I’m trying to call them out on their lies the moment I show some kind of interest in the property again.  I decided (mid-writing of the email, as you’ll see) to see where this strategy would get me with Zhang.

On Sep 9, 2012, at 7:11 AM, Braden Bost wrote:

Hey Zhang! How’s Africa? Since you seem to be unable to name those people, you will not be getting money or donations from me. Sounds harsh but those were our terms. 

 Let’s play another game. I’m going to pretend to still believe you’re not lying, thieving, bottom feeding pond scum and act interested in this home you don’t own. . . .

 So what is the next step? Can I tour the place first?

 

Sent from my iPad

Sadly, I still got no reply from Zhang.  But maybe he was busy.  Maybe he had more pressing things to tend to.  Maybe me indirectly calling him “lying, thieving, bottom feeding pond scum” made him feel uncomfortable with replying right away.  So I tried again.

From: Braden Bost
To: Zhang Shanrong <zshanrong@yahoo.com>
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2012 5:32 PM
Subject: Re: I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE RENT APPLICATIONS FORM BELOW

 

Hi! How do we proceed?

Well . . . Zhang got that one:

On Sep 11, 2012, at 3:15 AM, Zhang Shanrong <zshanrong@yahoo.com> wrote:

FUCK YOU

I can honestly say that’s the most satisfying f-bomb I’ve ever had thrown my way.  So the next question is, what do I do next?  Well, all things must end, sadly, so I decided to send off the final word in our largely one-sided conversation.

From: Braden Bost
To: Zhang Shanrong <zshanrong@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 8:13 AM
Subject: Re: I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE RENT APPLICATIONS FORM BELOW

 

And thank you, you worthless trash.

Too harsh?  Hmm.  Debatable.  I’ll post more of these narratives as they end.  I’ve got four or five more, and I’m looking forward to sharing them.

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One response to “Rental Scammer Revenge: Zhang Shanrong

  1. You may enjoy this site. People who basically do hilarious things to scammers.
    http://www.419eater.com/

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