Only the name and address have been changed in the following e-mail I received this week:
I am Makoto Robata from Japan. I will be relocating to the United States with my family very soon after my retirement, and I intend buying a home before I come over.
I will like you to send me a listing of properties with 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms within the price range of $500,000.00 to $1,200,000.00 with a nice view and garage, in a nice neighborhood in your city and state. Communication via email will be better as my spoken English is very poor. Waiting to hear from you. Please reply to my private email on :
Pondering why he would send an e-mail from one account and suggest that I communicate with him on another, I naturally marveled at how vague and inappropriate were his requirements (not least, “your city and state”). Yet I responded as diplomatically as possible this way:
Dear Mr. Robata,
I much appreciate your request for assistance and am eager to help you. Unfortunately, however, I must first request that we speak, even with an interpreter, as I have many questions before undertaking a search.
Perhaps a very good method for us to communicate in that way would be via Skype. My Skype address is Malcolm.Carter93.
I much look forward to hearing from you.
It is hard for me to imagine that I am more likely to receive a reply than to benefit from a multi-million-dollar estate that someone from Nigeria promises after I send him money.
Mr. “Robata’s” e-mail is the third such phony one that has polluted my inbox in the last couple of months. Actually, the previous one was not an e-mail but a phone call from a sincere-sounding supposed Norwegian from whom I never heard again after I asked him some pertinent questions. More or less the same story with a guy who professed to be in Singapore.
I wanted to be assured of the Norwegian’s assets, so routinely asked for financial statements to buttress his rather lofty claims. And I was puzzled that he claimed readiness to purchase a property only on my recommendation, finally conceding at my urging that he or at least someone he knew and trusted should see it before going to contract.
The bottom line is that while the Internet is extraordinarily useful in my business, it also can be extraordinarily dangerous: There are con artists of every stripe in every country.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022