Student falls victim to housing scam

Laura Braun

Laura Braun

An SDSU graduate was recently the victim of an email hoax.

Kelly Stieben, a music merchandising graduate from Brandon, advertised her apartment for rent on the SDSU off-campus housing Web site, but the person she was in contact with never sent money and never showed up.

Stieben was moving out and her two roommates needed a third girl to rent from December until May. Joan Mack was the first to contact Stieben, claiming she was a graduate student transferring to SDSU from the United Kingdom needing a place to stay. Stieben asked for a payment to reserve the room, but no money came in the mail.

The student’s father started sending emails to Stieben, telling her that his daughter was very precious and he wanted her to be taken care of when she arrived at SDSU. Stieben wrote to both the student and her father asking for updates of when she was arriving and when the payment was coming, but still no money.

A third person contacted Stieben, this one claiming to be from Manchester, UK, and coming to research at SDSU. Miriam asked for pictures of the apartment and an application form to fill out.

A co-worker of Stieben’s traced the IP address of Joan’s email address to West Nigeria. Her address as well as the father’s ended in “01” and “001” which, according to Stieben’s co-worker, is a sign of a possible hoax email account.

Stieben stopped responding to the emails and tagged their addresses as spam. “Unfortunately, since this has taken up so much time, no one else has wanted to rent the apartment,” said Stieben. She then had to pay for an apartment she was not living in.

“If someone is trying to rent from you and you think it’s a hoax, first contact administration and make sure that student really is coming to SDSU,” says Stieben.

Pat Lyons, legal aid attorney for the Students’ Association, said he has not heard of any other hoaxes. However, students should still be aware of who they are sharing information with.