Langley home used in Internet scam

Karwyn Driftmeyer’s dream rental house in Langley nearly turned into a nightmare, thanks to an Internet scam.

“I was really excited,” Driftmeyer, of Coupeville, said Thursday when about 10 days ago she saw the post on craigslist for a new three-bedroom house to rent. “It’s sad. I really wanted to live in Langley.”

The online posting, including photos, offered the house on Edgecliff Drive for $700 per month.

The price was more than $500 lower than the rental price listed for the same house on a local real estate Web site, which even featured the same photos.

Driftmeyer said she figured the owner must also have contracted with the real estate company to rent the house, explaining the difference in price.

She began an e-mail exchange with the person describing himself on the first Web site as the owner of the house.

The “owner” told Driftmeyer that his wife was a doctor, and that they had recently been recalled to work in a hospital in West Africa. He told Driftmeyer that he couldn’t show her the inside of the house, because he had the only keys with him.

After several e-mail exchanges, Driftmeyer said the “owner” eventually told her that she was the tenant he wanted, and that if she FedExed $700 to Africa, he would send back the keys.

“There was no way I was going to do that without seeing the inside,” she said. She pressed for more information, and made inquiries around Langley to find out if anyone knew of the “owners.” No one did.

She said she became even more skeptical when she inquired about the utilities, and received an e-mail talking about “hydro and air conditioning.”

“Who has air conditioning on Whidbey Island?” Driftmeyer asked.

She finally decided something smelled rotten, and on Wednesday she paid a visit to Langley Police Chief Bob Herzberg.

Meanwhile, e-mails from Africa stopped arriving, and the original bargain posting disappeared from craigslist and has not returned.

The real owner of the house, a Langley woman who declined to be identified, had known nothing of the original posting, Herzberg said.

He cautioned others who might be tempted by super bargains posted on craigslist and similar sites to think twice before sending off the cash.

“If something looks too good to be true, it’s too good to be true,” Herzberg said.

Meanwhile, Driftmeyer, an interior designer, is still keen on the idea of living in Langley, close to the Clinton Ferry Terminal and a 60-mile-shorter drive to visit her grandchildren in Bellevue.

“I’m still looking for a house down there,” she said.

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