I hate to admit it, but I was nearly scammed by a Nigerian today.
My search for a room in Groningen, Netherlands seemed to be over. Finally.
A girl I was talking to told me a room was free in the house she’d move in to.
The house was in a perfect spot and rent was surprisingly low.

Almost too good to be true…

So I get talking to the “landlord” and NOTHING adds up. Claims to be a Dutch girl born in 1995 (who’s a landlord at 22?), who can’t show me the apartment because she’s in Ukraine for work, then sends me a Canadian passport picture as proof and asks me to wire the money to a Turkish bank account while having a Nigerian last name and texting me from a British phone number.

At this point, red flags should’ve been popping up in my mind like it’s the Soviet Union…

…but it gets sketchier:

“Her” English is broken—which I don’t judge, but it’s very surprising to see a Canadian with a British number only speak broken English and unable to reply to basic questions.
Then, I get a “contract” in .docx format and in which the dates are off and it’s nowhere near legally binding. The fields I’m supposed to fill in are a bunch of question marks, for fooks sake!

And dumbass me signs it—and sends it.

So at this point, I’ve ignored enough red flags to make Stalin spin in his grave, get up and grow his mustache while walking to Germany, just to punch me in the face.

Luckily, I decide to Google this person… and find nothing. An FB search… also nothing.
Now I’m suspicious.

I google “rental scams” and read up on the topic.
The realization hits slowly, like watching Mike Tyson KO his opponent in slow-mo.

“GUHDDAMNIT I’M BEING SCAMMED!” I exclaim red-faced… and tell this scammer I revoke my signature. His reply is hilarious:

“If you have trust issues, don’t rent on the internet.”
Easy there, Freud.

After all this was over without me losing a penny, the marketing side of my brain immediately got curious…
I know the marketing tricks and I’ve read many books on persuasion—how on earth did this work on me?
How could I be so gullible and stupid?

The answer: A strong offer.

You see, this worked because…

  • I have to move there by August 1st. It’s urgent.
  • The uncertainty of not knowing where I’ll live *kills* me.
  • Me and the girl who would have been my housemate get along well.

So yes, I was desperate for a good deal on an apartment.
And I got the “perfect deal” and couldn’t resist. I ignored everything.

What’s curious is HOW many red flags I looked past because I wanted to believe.

Now, “too good to be true” offers are usually… too good to be true.

But if some Nigerian dude can almost scam an experienced marketer with the most obvious scam techniques…

…what can you accomplish with REAL value?

-Finn Lobsien