Thanks to all who provided input on the scam question. The consensus is that it was a scam. Although just barely, I’m pleased to say I avoided some major heartbreak here.
This morning I sent an email to the University, asking for advice on the situation. I sent the address, the rent, the passport and the “proof of ownership” certificate. Here’s the response:
I had a look at the attachments and googled the address, and I get the feeling that this deal is kind of dodgy. The whole house seems to be for sale: http://www.huislijn.nl/koopwoning/amsterdam/eerste-constantijn-huygensstraat_109_f47d00a6-cca0-4f8b-91a3-e043c617f078/overzicht.html and this website also tells us that the top 3 floors are rented at the moment but it doesn’t say if this situation will continue. And the proof of ownership looks very fake to me, but I could be wrong.
Mmhm. I don’t think you’re wrong, Renee. I don’t think you’re wrong at all.
Immediately after receiving this message from Amsterdam, I received this link from a friend (thanks MYC!):
It provides almost an exact replica of the “proof of ownership” I received from my scammer.
And finally, I took a look at the advice on scams provided by Craigslist (not sure why I didn’t do this before). One particular bullet point stood out from the rest:
3. Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram:
- Scam “bait” items include apartments, laptops, TVs, cell phones, tickets, and other high value items
- Often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money – this is FALSE, once you’ve wired money, it is GONE.
- Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Netherlands – but could be anywhere
- Apartment listing may be local, but landlord/owner is “travelling” or “relocating” and needs you to wire money to them abroad
- Deal often seems too good to be true, price is too low, rent is below market, etc
So there you have it. I feel like I just escaped an attacker. Dirty, hurt, and unable to trust strangers. But I’ll get back out there. I still have to find myself a place to live.