The Housing Heist

 

I’ve always been a pretty skeptical person. Whenever I hear about scams in the news I usually look at the absurd details and wonder how in the world people fall for this stuff.

I’m currently looking for a new place to live so took to the internet in hopes of finding an apartment. Not long into my search I found a place that seemed a little too good to be true but figured I’d email the ad poster anyways. It was here I had my first encounter with a real-life internet scammer!

I knew something was up within the first line Mr. Andrews Connie’s poorly worded response but instead of reporting him I decided to have a little fun with it. Here’s what followed:

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Quick and simple. Probably a swing and a miss but you can’t win the lotto unless you buy a ticket, right? Here’s Andrews response:

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Out of town for 2 to 3 years? Yeah, this is definitely a scam, Andrews. “I looking forward for more collaboration with you in the future.” Oh, my dear Andrews, our collaboration is just getting started…

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The key here was to sound interested with just a hint of desperation. Sure, I’ll drive to Wichita, Kansas, United State just to sign an application and pick up my keys.” 

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You can’t see inside of my house before you rent it, but here, look at these three photos that were clearly taken in the early 90’s and tell me which pricing option you’d like…

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I thought Lil Sebastian from the NBC’s Parks and Recreation was going to ruin this for me. I mean, I was asking this man who just barely asked me to care for his home as if it were my own, if I could have a living, breathing horse move in with me. Surely he wouldn’t say yes…

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Andrews didn’t care. I’m guessing minuature ponies trained to ring a bell whenever they need to use their inflatable children’s swimming pool litter boxes are something he deals with quite frequently with his tenants. It was at this point I knew I was in. Andrews could taste my money on his dishonest little lips and the only thing left to do was see how far I could take it.

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Andrews sending back-to-back emails within 4-hours means he must want to close this deal fast.

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Lil Sebastian might not have brought an end to this collaboration but I was fairly certain my application would do the trick…

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Ah, McLovin. Your fake ID served you well in the movie Superbad. Lets see how well it does for me with a few minor changes. For starters, the address listed on McLovin’s license was fake. I figured while Andrews might not be well-versed in the English language he’s probably smart enough to Google my address, so I listed the Jack-In The Box restaurant in Honolulu where I got food poisoning when I visited Hawaii a few years back. Secondly, I didn’t know if Andrews would buy the name McLovin, plus I had already signed my initial email as Brandon. His signature looks like it says ‘Mark Ewing’ so that’s what I went with. Middle name Brandon.

Would my application be up to the high standards Andrews holds his tenants to?

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Andrews Connie and his lovely wife look like they’re going to be the sweetest old landlords I’ve ever had! I was curious where these images came from so I did a reverse Google image search and found them on a Google+ profile of someone named Devon. Below you’ll see Devon’s only 10 interests in the world:

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Does Andrews look like the kind of man who listens to Soulja Boy religiously while keeping up with the latest Kim K. gossip? Probably not. This will come into play shortly, but first here’s my response of my approved application…

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Now I know how wiring money works. I wanted Andrews to think he was dealing with the most simple minded horse owning, car-dwelling, coffee grounds star wars art making man the world has ever seen BUT at the same time, a man who was eager to send all his money to a complete stranger who’s name he didn’t even know until it was almost time to move into his home. I hope this whole MoneyGram thing isn’t too difficult for Lil Sebastian and I to get right the first time…

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Andrews is a good man. I’ve always said a good landlord will go the extra mile and ship their keys and documents to the local Burger King. I’d found a keeper. I was planning out my reply when Andrews hit me with another back-to-back email. Classic Andrews.

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Woah. Andrews wants his money and fast. But he had a point; it would be nice to move in at my “own convenience time.”

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I hope Andrews picks up on the fact that I am just digging for a compliment on my Star Wars coffee grounds art… Then, in the time it takes Soulja Boy to write and release a new album Andrews replies with:

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Andrews wanted me to go back to Smith’s and send his MoneyGram before they closed. I knew some Photoshop and fictional Hollywood character name dropping would be a great way to get out of that.

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It wasn’t my best Photoshop work but it had Andrews convinced that Lil Sebastian and I were still at Don Drapers daughters birthday party and he’d have to wait another day to cash in on my stupidity.

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I woke up the next morning all excited to send my MoneyGram order to Andrews but then something terrible happened on my way to the store…

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There. I successfully listed all 10 of Andrews Google+ interests in my response. Will he finally realize that I plan on sending him money just like he plans on sending me keys to his house?

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Four times Andrews tells me send the payment and get back to him with the details. I wanted to tell him to hold his horses but I just couldn’t crack a horse joke with my Lil Sebastian lost out there all alone in the world.

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At this point, every time I send Andrews an email I just sit back and wonder what he thinks when he reads them. Am I the weirdest person he’s trying to steal from? I mean, if there’s really people out there dumb enough to fall for these scams they’ve gotta have some pretty weird stories themselves, right?

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I love that Andrews gives me permission to plaster my MISSING posters all over his neighborhood. Did it even cross his mind that my reward was for the exact amount I was supposed to be sending him?

For the first time in our entire correspondence Andrews changed the subject line of his email and it’s an all-caps passive-aggressive reminder that he’s awaiting the payment receipt.

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The four ASAP’s in this email made me wonder if Andrews had some outstanding gambling debts he was in a hurry to settle before someone comes for his kneecaps. Andrews isn’t the only one with problems right now though. Look what happened when I tried distributing my flyers in his safe and quiet neighborhood:

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Special thanks to Kristen Stewart and her hatred for the paparazzi. Her double-middle finger picture is causing Andrews some unwanted stress in his frail old life…

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LISTEN ANDREWS, YOU DON’T GET TO TELL ME WHEN I’LL LOOK FOR MY MISSING HORSE.

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Life hack: Are you struggling to relate to the elderly? Make a Ben Matlock analogy. It works every time.

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It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong, and although Andrews didn’t come right out and say it, I knew that he knew looking for Lil Sebastian was the right thing to do.

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Come on Andrews, its been 90 minutes. You know how big Logan is. There’s literally a dozen places a miniature horse could hide. I expect this search to take weeks if not months, barring some miracle…

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I knew I wanted to send Andrews a picture of Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20. After a quick Google search I stumbled upon this one of Rob and Mclovin together and I had never been more pleased with the Internet. All I had to do was Photoshop Lil Sebastian into the picture and it was ready to go. I thought Andrews would be excited to move forth with our collaboration but I didn’t hear back right away so I emailed him again…

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Was Andrews finally fed up to the point that he was done? I’ll be honest, I was a little sad at the thought of this magical friendship coming to an end so soon. I was sitting on my couch having a good cry while eating a gallon of breakup ice cream when suddenly…

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We’re still in business! Time to put down this ice cream and kick things up a notch. I hadn’t replied to Andrews yet when he emailed me again, congratulating me on finding Lil Sebastian, this time calling him by name. He truly is a kind person, like he says.

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I knew I was going to lose Andrews if I didn’t wire him the money soon so I went to a Western Union kiosk. Unfortunately, I learned I couldn’t wire money anonymously. I didn’t want to use my real name, number and address so I needed to buy some time to come up with a new plan. Luckily for me, it was Sunday.

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I can just imagine someone walking up to an ATM on a Sunday afternoon and finding a handwritten note that reads “Closed until tomorrow. Go home, you sinner.”

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“Banks unplug their ATMs? 911 refuses to send help on Sundays? Sure. Just send the payment tomorrow.”

Has Andrews even noticed that I call his secretary by a different name every time I address her? Shouldn’t this concern him seeing how she’s the one I’m sending the money to? Something tells me he might be a first-time criminal.

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After making a few phone calls I learned that Walmart would send a MoneyGram without requiring any photo ID or verification (why was this not surprising?) so I jumped in my truck and headed to the place where dreams go to die.

The line at the Walmart customer service desk was a mile long with each person in front of me looking more depressed than the last. It took about 20 minutes to work my way to the front of the line but finally the time came to send Andrews his long awaited and hard earned $1,050.

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Now I know what you’re thinking, “He didn’t really wire Andrews the money, did he?” You bet I did. I’m a man of my word AND I’m sick of living in my car with a miniature horse. Here’s picture proof:

Money Order

Whoops. Looks like I accidentally left out a zero. This is the EXACT reason I pay someone else to do my taxes. Math never was my strong suit. As I previously mentioned, the line at the customer service desk was a mile long. Needless to say, the clerk was less than enthused when she learned I wanted to send a MoneyGram for a whopping $1.50. I could tell she wanted to leap over the counter and choked me. Luckily for me, leaping was not something she was capable of and we both knew it. She mumbled something under her breath, scratched her head and went to work creating my MoneyGram for $1.50.

The fee to transfer $1.50 to Andrews came to $4.75. Nearly seven times the cost of what I was trying to send. At least I think it was seven times the cost. Again, math is not my strong suit. The grand total came to $6.25. Well worth it. I just wish I could see the look on Andrews face when he goes to cash in his mega payday.

I thought Andrews would be thrilled at the news that I had sent his money but I didn’t hear back from him right away. He’s not the kind of guy who would just take the money and run so I emailed him again, reminding him where I would be awaiting my keys and documents.

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Two days later (including one full day waiting inside Burger King for my keys and documents) Andrews finally responds.

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Apparently Andrews didn’t read my previous email containing all of the MoneyGram details…

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Hi Andrews, I’ve already sent all the info you need to finalize this sad little scam so just go ahead and collect my money. No more email correspondence is needed. 

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18 minutes Later Andrews hits me with one of his classic back-to-back emails.

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I don’t need your passive aggressive double question marks, Andrews. Quite frankly, it’s beginning to frustrate me that I have to hold your hand and walk you through your own scam.

Apparently we were also running out of time? I dunno. Andrews had all the information he needed to finish his scam. I just wanted him to go collect his $1.50.

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Andrews Connie has to be one of the worst conmen alive. Whether it’s his blatant lack of knowledge of the town his scam is centered in or his poorly worded emails, he’s just terrible at this. It had been two days since I sent my money to Andrews and he’s just now getting around to picking it up? I highly doubt it’s because he’s been too busy swimming in his Scrooge McDuck pit filled with money from all the other ingenious cons he’s pulled.

I couldn’t figure out why Andrews was asking for a receipt. All he needed was an ID that said Sandra Sobotka and the reference number and the money was his forever with absolutely no way to trace it. Maybe he looked up the status of the transfer order online and saw it was only for $1.50. That’s the only logical reason I can see for him demanding a receipt.

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Andrews replied 5 hours later with his first ever back-to-back-to-back email. Each one with an all-caps subject line more aggressive than the last…

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I wasn’t really sure what Andrews endgame was here. The reference number was 100% valid. Judging by his poor grammar and the arrival time of his emails I assumed he might be running this scam from overseas. I took another look at the MoneyGram website but the collection process appeared to be the same outside of the U.S.; Photo ID and a reference number.

I was surprised he asked me to cancel the order and try again. He was insistent that I send a snapshot of the receipt.

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Personally, I still think Andrews secretary Sandra has pocketed my money…

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Well, it was settled. I needed to go back to Walmart and resend the money order…

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Poor Rick Grimes has been so skeptical of others ever since the world went up in flames in AMC’s The Walking Dead. Would Andrews really answer the questions on my list?

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This was easily my favorite email I’d received during my collaboration with Andrews. Except everyone has a favorite food so I’m kind of mad that he lied to me there…

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I sense Andrews is a little worried that I’ve been spooked off…

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PUT A STOP TO YOU LIVING ALL AROUND WITH LIL SEBASTIAN. Don’t pity me Andrews, I have a cool lil’ car roommate and lightening fast wifi in the Burger King parking lot.

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OK, I changed my mind. THIS is the my favorite email from Andrews. I literally laughed out loud at his Photoshop work. Was he subtly making fun of my Photoshop skills? I don’t think so. He was dead serious. It’s nice that the state of Kansas put his Logan Utah address on his state-issued ID. That photo looks vaguely familiar too…

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I hope Andrews takes my obesity intervention email seriously…

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 12.53.30 PM (2)

Well, now we know where Andrews draws the line when it comes to calling his secretary by a different name every time. “Just tell Rick Grimes you are sending the money to an uncle who is on a sick bed…”

I didn’t feel right lying to Rick about the money going to my sick uncle but I really needed a place to live. What’s the worst that could happen?

2

Jail was pretty rough but I learned how to make a shank out of a toothbrush so it wasn’t a total waste of my time. Would Andrews be willing to settle for less money because of the lie he made me tell?

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A second month of free rent? Andrews, you just solidified your title as Worlds Greatest Landlord.

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“I can’t keep waiting forever…” Well, we’ve been going for nearly a month now so yeah, you can.

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I hope Fletcher Reede (Jim Carey’s character in the 1997 hit movie Liar Liar) will be able to get me off the hook.

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Nothing gets past Andrews. He quickly saw I was trying to jip him out of $150.

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You can tell by Andrews tone that he’s almost to his breaking point. I honestly thought this day would have come after our 4th email. This is long overdue.

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You bet I’m going to guilt Andrews and remind him that he made me lie in every email I send from here on out.

It was at this time I caught the wonderful February flu going around and lost all interest in emailing Andrews while I wasn’t on top of my game. He didn’t give up though…

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After about a week I was finally feeling like myself again and decided it was time to email Andrews back.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 12.08.34 AM (2)

Andrews wasn’t replying fast enough for my liking so I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine.

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Five days later and still no response. I was more than worried. Time to rally the search posse and see if Andrews is dead or has just given up on his failed scam.

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Andrews was lucky to have a guy like me looking out for him.

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I was a little peeved that Andrews didn’t thank me for the hours I spent plastering his MISSING poster all over his neighborhood. A little gratitude would have been nice. Oh well, it was time to wire $500. Nothing could go wrong trusting my money in the hands of someone who goes by the name Hamburglar, right?

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Would Andrews settle for $250 for 6 months living in his home? I mean, when all this started it was $1,050 for three months. Anyone willing to settle for $250 knows there’s deadly asbestos in their walls…

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Wait, so do we still have a deal or??? “I think I’ll rent my property to someone else but you can still go ahead and send me $250 if you’d like.” You can tell Andrews is about ready to throw in the towel…

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I like to think that in the 10 minutes between these two emails Andrews was doing the math on his fancy watch calculator. “$250 divided by the 43 days I’ve been dealing with this mess…”

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I should really sell cars or talk depressed jumpers off of rooftops with my negotiation skills.

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Two days passed and Andrews still hadn’t sent me his address. Who doesn’t jump at the chance of free coffee grounds art?

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I just know Andrews will love my painting. He’ll probably hang it above his bed…

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Usually people say thank you when they’re given a gift. This one hurts a bit, Andrews.

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If I know ‘Andrews the entrepreneur’ like I think I do he’ll jump at the opportunity to flip  my picture frame for a nice profit.

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$1,050… $800… $600… $500… $250… $200…. How low can I go before Andrews finally says “Forget it. This isn’t worth my time.” 

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$425 + $425 + $200 = $1,050.

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I love that Andrews doesn’t even care that I keep comparing his physical appearance to Jabba the Hutt and that he’s OK with $200 after I just barely said I was selling two paintings for $850. Has he done the math? Oh well, more money for me to spend on the indoor hot tub I’m going to put in his kitchen.

Andrews asked me to “try and find a way to send the $200.” I was tempted to ask him if I could send the money via carrier pigeon but this post is already long enough as it is. I just needed to do something drastic to end our collaboration.

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It looks like Walter White from AMC’s Breaking Bad is alive and well AND still cooking! Andrews wasn’t interested in selling my Star Wars picture frame but I doubt he could pass on Walters blue energy candy…

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After nearly two months of “wasting time on me” it looked as if our collaboration was finally coming to an end because I was just too trustworthy.

I had a gut-feeling that this blue energy candy I bought from Walter is going to make me rich, so I thought I’d give Andrews one last chance to reconsider my offer.

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7 hours and counting until Sundown. Would Andrews my deadline serious?

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I guess we’re still in business…

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Andrews finally got his long awaited transfer receipt. I thought he’d be thrilled…

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Man, this MoneyGram stuff is really hard…

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I really just wanted an excuse to drive to Wichita with Lil Sebastian and meet Andrews in person. I hope he picks this option…

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$1,050… $800… $600… $500… $250… $200… $100… $68.50

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Believe it or not, this is where things really started to get weird in my collaboration with Andrews…

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Andrews sends me the tracking number for the keys, which I immediately look up and it obviously didn’t exist. Then he tells me that he took out a loan to fix up his house but hasn’t paid it off, so I will need to send him more money to make payments before the bank forecloses his house. He also says his lawyer wrote up the contract for two months (with a third for free) but tried talking him out of sending the keys and documents. (His lawyer sounds like the only sane one in this scam.)

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I decided to give Andrews a taste of his own medicine and demand to see a receipt. How will he get around this?

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He avoids the question by pretending that I didn’t even reply to his email. Smooth.

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SEND ME THE RECEIPT, ANDREWS.

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So the keys and documents he already shipped and gave me a tracking number for are actually still in his possession…

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I’ve got Andrews backed into a corner now. How will my fat friend get out of this one?

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I like to imagine Andrews frantically swimming in a sea of packages at the Post Office, trying to find his package so he can stop the shipment once he realized my money wasn’t there.

Once again, Andrews asks for my phone number and tries telling me to send more money.

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Greedy, greedy Andrews.

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Why do I get the feeling there’s going to be another problem at the MoneyGram kiosk?

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$1,050… $800… $600… $500… $250… $200… $100… $68.50… $37

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I’m guessing $37 must still be a lot of money in whatever foreign country Andrews lives in. Why else would he still be going along with this nonsense?

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I don’t see why Costco couldn’t send a Walmart money order…

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It looks like I’m off to “the walmart store.” 

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Would Andrews realize that my road trip was going to take me right through Wichita? Probably not. He hadn’t acknowledged (or complained) yet that I dropped the payment to $37 so I dropped it to $25 and made sure to point it out several times.

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I was really surprised Andrews wasn’t complaining about me lowering (and lowering and lowering) the amount I could send him. Maybe he’d already given up and just wanted to see how low I’d go?

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Wyoming is a scary place.

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Does your landlord send you email prayers? I didn’t think so.

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Pretty straightforward and simple, right? #1 or #2.

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Andrews didn’t like either of my 2 options so he created a 3rd…

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Another day went by and the workaholic Andrews still hadn’t responded with #1 or #2…

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I hope Andrews understands “reply within 2-hours” more than he did “reply by sundown.”

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$1,050… $800… $600… $500… $250… $200… $100… $68.50… $37… $25… $13

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I’m no lawyer but I’d say this contract is air-tight…

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Rule #1: Always read the fine print, Andrews. You just agreed to rent me your property for less than $1.44 per month when our contract expires in 9 months.

Life got pretty busy and I neglected returning Andrews email for a week…

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Another classic “copy + paste” email from Andrews. He’s a busy man seeing to his properties. You can’t expect him to type out a new reply  EVERY time.

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I knew Walter Whites blue energy candy was too good to be true…

4 days went by and I hadn’t heard back from Andrews so I emailed him again with one of his “copy + paste” emails.

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Two weeks went by and there was still no response from Andrews. Maybe he had finally drawn the line at $7.

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It had been nearly a month since Andrews last correspondence. I guess he’d had enough of “wasting all his time on me.” From $1,050 to $13. It was that last $6 that cost me the deal of a lifetime. I guess I shouldn’t have been so greedy,  $1.44 per month was still a pretty good deal.

I wanted to let Andrews know there was no hard feelings even though he’d completely abandoned me and brought an eternity of shame to his families name for failing to honor the details of our collaboration…

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Here’s the video I made for Andrews to always remember me by. (Warning: You’ll want a box of tissues nearby. This one’s sure to pull on your heart strings.)


(https://vimeo.com/159265285)

IN CONCLUSION:
I’ll never know why $7 was ultimately the deal breaker for Andrews Connie. Maybe he scammed hundreds of people during our correspondence and retired on a private island with his lovely wife and Dolly Parton CD collection? Maybe he saw a McDonald’s commercial and realized Hamburglar is a fictional character? Or perhaps he just realized that I had zero intention of sending him any money. Whatever his reasoning was, I’m just glad I had the opportunity to collaborate with my new best friend for a few months.

If you’re ever in need of a pick-me-up I recommend emailing Andrews Connie for yourself and starting a collaboration of your own. I don’t see his housing listing online anymore but I’m sure if you emailed and said; “Hi, is your property I saw online still for rent?” he’d reply in a heartbeat.

If you do email Andrews I suggest doing it with a fake name and email address so he doesn’t have any of your real info. I would have done this had I known what was about to unfold. I’m really hoping he doesn’t do a Google search for my email address, track me down and come murder me in my sleep.

Also, if you do email Andrews please send me highlights of your collaboration. I’d love to see what my old friend is up to these days.

Maybe I’ll contact Andrews again someday from a new email address and start a new collaboration that I can highlight here on my site, but for now Lil Sebastian and I need some time to heal from the loss of friendship with my dear, sweet landlord-to-be that never will be.

Andrews Connie: andrewsconnie9@hotmail.com