How I pulled a François

One thing I appreciate about my friends is that they are people I can learn from. They all have a characteristic, a talent or a habit that I like and that I often strive to make my own. For example my friend François who possesses a multitude of positive characteristics, one of them being his way of dealing with fraudsters.

Tonight, our friend Abhinav who commutes between Alabama, Toulouse and Hamburg, was in town and we got to hang out with him. Right: Francois, Left: Abhinav.

Tonight, our friend Abhinav who commutes between Alabama, Toulouse and Hamburg, was in town and we got to hang out with him. Right: Francois, Left: Abhinav.

Like I wrote earlier, contacting people on the German apartment websites leads in at least 30% of cases to replies that are trying to deceive you. They post apartments that sound very good and once you have emailed them, you get a reply stating that the person had bought the apartment when he (almost never a woman) was on a five-year-contract in Hamburg. Now the person is back in the United Kingdom. Sometimes they pretend to be a researcher or a medicial doctor or some other kind of respectable profession. Now they want to rent out their property to “friendly, reliable tenants”. They ask you to tell them about yourself and then try to make you wire money in advance to them before you can get the keys to view the apartment. The keys will be handed out to you by a real estate agency (usually a well known name so that you feel secure).

This happens to everyone who is searching the apartment pages and when you report the problem the website hosts start sending you a “beware of fraud!”-email for every single email you sent to anyone.

My friend François apparently had internalized the German saying, “Verarschen kann ich mich alleine” (I can bullshit myself), and started replying with a bunch of lies as well. He wrote that he had totally sent the money and had no idea why it didn’t get there.

Yesterday, I got another one of the fraud emails and I got inspired by François. “Dominic Slav” who maintained to be in the United Kingdom, wanted to know some more details about me and who was going to move into his two-room-apartment. So I replied,

“Hi Dominic,
As you requested, some details about us:
We are seven to move in: me, my husband and our five children, aged 8, 6, 4, 4 (twins) and the little one being only 6 months. We are looking for a long term lease. My husband works as a trade representative for the Duchy of Liechtenstein from which we both hail. I am on maternal leave and usually work as a jewelry designer at Swarovski in Vaduz. Our income is thus secured.
We would be happy to take over your furniture and will add some own for the children.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. We are looking forward to hearing about how to proceed.”

Apparently, Dominic (or whatever the idiot’s real name is) did not care about my large family of seven wanting to live in two rooms. Nor did he find the fact that we were all from Liechtenstein weird. I am pleased to see that Liechtensteiners are no longer discriminated against!

He answered,

“Hello ,
Thanks for your reply,
You seem to be a very nice person and I can assure you we will not have any problems .Like I have inform you before, the price you shall pay for 1 month of rent will be 500 EUR and i want also one month guarantee deposit 500 EUR( the guarantee deposit 500 EUR you will receive back when you leave the apartment ), with no extra taxes to pay. The money, I want to revive it monthly to my bank account, so I hope it will be no problem for you to wire the money .
Of course you will have to see the apartment before discussing further details . I am willing to send you the keys so you can visit it and see it suits your needs . The delivery for the keys and viewing permit (signed by me), will be made with uShip to make sure that we can trust each other.
I will explain the procedure if you are interested so please email me as soon as you read this message because I really need to take care of this matter.


Since he “really needed to take care of this matter” and wanted to “revive” (sic!) the money, I immediately informed him how very interested we were. I thought that maybe if I added a few completely ridiculous names of my invented children that would add more credibility to my family.

“Hi Dominic,

we are still interested of course. Wiring the money will not be a problem for bank in Liechtenstein.

Please let us know how to proceed. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

All the best,

Helen, Matthias with Elisabeth, Johanna, Eugen-Jonathan, Finn-Ole and Clothilde”

Observant readers note that I am still married to Matthias, a husband I invented a few month ago at my former job. Dominic seems to be a child-friendly person because he happily greeted Elisabeth, Johanna (and then we lost our good name-taste) Eugen-Jonathan, Finn-Ole and Clothilde. He also explained that 500 + 500 euros is 1000 euros.

“Hello all of you ! 🙂
First of all , I want to tell you that if you are ready to proceed with this transaction I will need to inform you the steps about how this service works
You will have 2 days to inspect the apartment before your final decision to rent . I will pay the shipping costs.
The shipping company its called : uShip (
This is how they work :

1) I will make the delivery papers at uShip. After that I will send you a copy of my passport.

2) After I will make the papers for delivery they will require for your payment confirmation of the first month and the guarantee deposit (500 EUR+ 500 EUR= 1000 EUR) to the company .uShip will send you a delivery notification to let you know they have the Keys and the papers in their custody .
Also uShip will give you further instructions about the money deposit .

3) After the payment is confirmed the delivery process will start and when you will receive the keys, you will have 2 days inspection period before your final decision to rent .
4) If all is in order, you will instruct uShip to give me the money. Further rents will be sent directly to my bank account.

5) If you refuse to rent the apt , uShip will give you a full refund (1000 EUR) and you will give them back the keys and the contract.
If you are interested to rent the apt please send me your information, so i can start the transaction :

Address: ……………
City: …………………
Postal Code: ……………
Country: ……………….
Phone number:……………


I think I will tell him that Matthias is currently travelling in the United Kingdom and it would be so much more easier if they could just meet and sort out the matter personally.


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