SDCC Scam Alert (Yes, Already) – Ripped Off For Housing On Craigslist

By Jeremy Konrad

Imagine if you will that you were offered a chance to go to San Diego Comic Con as a reporter for Bleeding Cool. Chance of a lifetime right? Myself and 5 compadres thought so, and we are in fact going to SDCC on behalf of the mighty Bleeding Cool. Naturally, cost is probably the biggest issue, so we decided to book a hotel with the 6 of us to drive the price down on the room and make it quite affordable. We booked the cheapest room we could find, and set about planning the rest of our trips.

But then, you keep looking. Maybe somewhere closer will have a cancellation. Comfort plays a huge factor in travel. Jamming 6 people into a hotel room is no easy task, so being able to find that comfort is no easy task.  But these are the risks you take; these are the sacrifices you make when opportunities like this pop up. You grab life by the horns and wrestle it to the ground.

Then you see this.

scam 01

What type of madness is this? So close to the con, it is only a 10 minute walk! That price! What a deal! Somebody must have cancelled, there is no other explanation. Well, we probably won't get it, but just in case, I will message the owner. After checking it out on other travel sites, it seems on the up and up. Why not try to live it up a little since this may be the only shot we will ever have to go to SDCC, make it memorable. YOLO, am I right? (The kids are still saying that, aren't they?)

Then, the impossible happens. They message you back. It is available! And at that price! All it takes to reserve it is a $300 deposit and the rest can be paid later, but it has to be quickly, don't want it to fill up. So, you and the others scramble around, sending money back and forth, and deposit the $300 into the man's checking account…wait. That is kind of weird. And the man starts to be very pushy and frantic about getting the rest of the money. And the name on the account is different from the one you have been emailing. It must be a business associate, right? People get ripped off on Craigslist all the time, but that can't happen to me. I checked this out on a couple different sites; everything seems fine.  Do I just have visions of hosting the ultimate SDCC after party? Being within walking distance?

scam 02

So you go to deposit more of the money, and they will not take it at the bank. The account is flagged. The teller tells you to get a refund. You run to the computer, because there is a phone number you can call now and talk to the owner, it must be a misunderstanding. He picks up, and the second you mention the rental property and SDCC, he takes a deep breath and says nope, that is a scam.

Your heart sinks. Legs go wobbly. He goes on to tell you this is an ongoing problem with that posting; he is not affiliated with that Craigslist posting. Says other people have called with the same problem. That people have given this crook their money and even shown up and not had the slightest idea (and nowhere to stay). He says he is sorry; at least you got off light. People have lost a lot more money than that.

You spend the rest of the night emailing everyone else, apologizing profusely that you allowed this to happen. How could you have been so dumb? The warning signs were there, red flags galore. What happened?

Comic Con happened. It does things to you. Makes you think and act all funny. All sense of logic goes out the window. At least that is what happened to me. It also brings out the worst in people.  Scammers of all sorts are already out in full force, and I happened to fall prey to one. Guess I should have watched this first, huh?

So, if you are going to SDCC, we will see you there. We do still have our original room. But, if you are still looking for accommodations, this should serve as a warning: do not get Con drunk. Especially before the con even takes place.

Also: do not trust a mister Scott Underwood (if that is his real name), whose email is: I hope wherever you are you feel really good about yourself loser.

Jeremy Konrad is a freelance writer for Bleeding Cool, and the Co-Host of The Dedicated Server. Tell him he doesn't know what he is talking about and chat about Star Wars with him on Twitter @jeremyohio.

About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.

twitter   facebook square