A few weeks ago, our office received a phone call from a young woman who had responded to a Craigslist ad for an apartment lease. When she emailed the “listing agent”, she was requested to wire the first month’s rent to her attorney’s account. The “listing agent” provided her attorney’s name, an account number, and a routing number.
That attorney’s name was listed as Kunal Patel. However, the account number was not mine; presumably it was the fraudster’s account. Fortunately, the young woman was smart enough to call our office and confirm whether the request was legitimate.
We hoped that was the end of it and that no other people were scammed. However, today, we received a phone call from a bank asking whether we were expecting a wire. Again, it was to/from from persons I do not know and an account that was not mine.
If you receive any wire requests purporting to be from me or my office (other than on an invoice), DO NOT WIRE MONEY. Then please submit a complaint: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1
If you did wire money, please fill out this form with the FBI: https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx/
Here’s what an email from the fraudster looks like:
Your application was reviewed by my lawyer. I’m glad to inform you that you have been accepted to occupy the room. I need assurance the apartment will be kept in good condition. You can now proceed with the payment of deposit and rent to my lawyers account to secure the unit for your move-in date. There are 2 other applicant who got approved. Whoever makes the payment first gets to secure the unit.
Lawyer Bank Details are;
Bank Name: Bank of America
Account Holder Name: Kunal Patel
Wire Transfer Routing number:026009593
Address: 10940 West Sam Houston Pkwy N, Houston TX 77064
I will overnight the keys/document as soon as your payment is confirmed to your current address. You will receive the receipt from the courier service to know exactly what time it will be delivered to you and it will include the tracking numbers. Attached is lease agreement to sign and email back when you make payment.
Here are the contents that will be delivered to you via courier service;
1) Entrance and the room keys.
2) Paper/Permanent apartment form(Containing your details)
3) The apartment documented file.
4) Payment Receipts.
5) Description of the building.
Note: Email back proof of payment