how NOT to make it

notes from a working actor

The trials and tribulations
of Mike Vaughn

(this guy)

[Megan and I are always on the lookout for a great home rental and we found a deal that was too good to be true. In fact, I assumed the owner meant to say, it’s one room for that amount, but I figured I’d double check anyway]

From: Mike Vaughn
Subject: $1000 / 3br – 1990 Traditional in the heart of Silver Lake.. Large master bedroom
Date: Saturday, November 28, 2009, 11:14 PM

Quick question: is this a shared room, or the entire home that’s for rent..
-Mike Vaughn

Date: November 29, 2009 5:20:15 AM

Thanks for the mail. The house is still available for rent… Total move in cost:$1300 (includes first month rent).All Utilities are already included in the rent.I would love to show you round the place and the inside, but am sorry we are presently out of town. I am one of the coordinator of United State Missionary Organization and decided to rent/lease our property because i have been posted to New York City by the United State Christain Organization for (Worldwide Missionary Outreach). We are now in New York City for the Missionary work.We wanted to sell it before and later changed our mind to rent it out for investment purposes since we might still come back some time three years or more to come.So we have ordered them to stop all advertisement and remove it from the market about the home for sale and that will be effective asap. So i wouldnt want that to bother you at all..We could not find an honest agent to hand over the place to before leaving so i and my family decided to post the advert online.Here is our rental application form that you will have to fill if you are still interested in this rent.

FIRST NAME: __________________
MIDDLE NAME: __________________
LAST NAME: __________________
PROFESSION: ________________
CELL PHONE:______________________
HOME PHONE:______________________
DO YOU HAVE A PET:____________________________
DO YOU HAVE A CAR____________________________
PRESENT ADDRESS: ___________________________
WHY ARE YOU LEAVING: ____________________________________________________
PREVIOUS ADDRESS: ___________________________

I CERTIFY that answers given herein are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this application for tenant screening as may be necessary in arriving at a tenant decision. I understand that the landlord may terminate any rental agreement entered into for any misrepresentation made above.

Thanks and Remain Blessed


[NOTE: at this point it’s obviously a scam, and since we live near the house we decided to jog the neighborhood and see the place along the way. We ended up meeting the owner who said he had his house listed on Zillow and the scammers used that listing to create the Craig’s List ad. We had a laugh and moved on. ….Then I decided to fuck with this guy]

From: Mike Vaughn
Date: November 29, 2009 11:22 AM

Hi Johnson.

We have a few things it common it seems. I too own a home in Oregon and I live here in LA for work. I also have renters in my home, and I’m keeping the house for investment purposes as well. How funny.
Also, we know what you mean when you talk about the difficulty in finding honest representatives in this area. Whew boy. Don’t get me started. Everyone needs some money I suppose.

Anyway, I’ve filled out the application below.
If we qualify, what would be the next step and how would we see the place?
Thanks so much and continued success to you in New York (we love that city).
-Mike and Megan

Date: November 30, 2009 9:34 AM


You have a nice application filled out and now you are approved to be our new tenant.So i will have to send the keys to you but before that i will have to confirm your total move in cost(1300) which would be sent to my solicitor.I and my family would like to send the following documents to you via Fedex courier company to the address you provided in the rent application form after your payment has been confirmed.You will be receiving the entrance and the rooms Keys,Paper/Permanent house form(Containing your reference details),house documentary file and Payment Receipt inside the package.The tracking number of the delivery status would be sent to you and other details of delivery so that you can possible occupy the house asap.The money would be wired to my solicitor in here in Escondido,CA via western union money transfer.Get back to me asap for the western union details required to use to make the payment


From: Mike Vaughn
Date: November 30, 2009 10:53 AM

Oh, that is wonderful, blessed news.
I ran to my local Western Union place today and they said they needed your solicitor’s name and information in order for him to receive the $1,300.
We drove by the place and we just love it. We’re very excited.
Anyway, my Western Union office needs the Solicitor’s name, home address and phone number, and that should do it.
Thanks again.

Date: December 1, 2009 12:31 PM

Below is the details you need to use to send the money via western union money transfer

Receivers Name:Shannon Renfro
Receivers Address:1800 N. Broadway
Zip code:CA 92026

So Get back to me with the following details ……..

Senders Name:
Senders Address:
Amount Sent:
MTCN #(Ten Digit Number):

Hope to read from you today with the details…

From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 1, 2009 3:18 PM

Hi again Johnson.

We’re so excited.
We’ve already got most of our house packed up and ready to go. Boy, those U-Haul boxes are expensive aren’t they? Moving to NY, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
So I have more exciting news for you….

My close friend, Richard (Dick) Gosenya, works as the branch manager at the Chase Bank in Ranch Santa Fe, CA. He said he would process a cashier’s check for us for free. Just come in and it’s yours. Because it’s not in your town, I’m going to send you $150 extra, or $1450 total for your trouble (Western Union just wanted to charge too much and I’d rather you, or your solicitor, get the extra money. Use it for gas or lunch or whatever). Plus, you also get to meet Richard. He’s a good guy even if he likes to poke at ya once in a while heh.

Anyway, the cashiers check is ready for you to pick up at:
Chase Bank
6041 La Flecha, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
(858) 756-3777
Ask for Richard (his favorite co-workers and friends call him Dick – you should too) and he’ll hand you the check.

I look forward to getting your package with the papers shortly after you cash the cashiers check.

Thanks again.

Date: December 2, 2009 8:13 AM

I really appreciate your quick response and i am very much excited about that….I appreciate the fact that you will take care of my home for me and i am happy that my home will be in save hands.. I just dont feel comfortable with the cashier check stuff because my solicitor is a very busy person and dont think she likes that when i called her…I am very sorry for any inconvinience but that is how she wants to do it for me.. She only prefers western union because its the fastest and safest way of sending and receiving money worldwide… So now get the money and send it via western union wirh the details i gave to you AND DEDUCT THE WESTERN UNION CHARGES FROM THE MONEY and send the rest and get back to me with the details required from you.


From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 2, 2009 1:25 PM

Sorry, my mistake.
_What I meant to say is that because Richard works there, he can also just cash it for you, no charge, if you prefer. I just thought you’d prefer a cashiers check so that it can be safely sent to your address in NY. I’m glad that you have so much trust in your Solicitor.
Just talked to Richard and he already has my payment waiting for you, and said cash is no problem if you just head into the Chase Bank in Rancho Santa Fe.
You can give him a call on his cell to set up a time if you prefer. His cell phone is (323) 540-4658. Just say “Hi Dick!” and he’ll set you right up. He even knows a little Español. But don’t make any Polish jokes, he HATES Polish jokes. Which we always found strange since he’s half Irish and half Portuguese. He’s a funny guy.

Anyway, feel free to give your solicitor the extra $150 to cover gas, her time, and may_be even a nice lunch at Chilis Restaurant where she can get some fantastic Baby-Back Ribs and Pepper in Some Flavor (their new tag line, not bad, huh?). Yeha, we just love our Chilis.

Since the money is already sent and waiting we’ll just keep packing up and keep getting more and more excited about the move.
FYI, we’ve already moved our patio furniture, grill, and other outdoor stuff to the backyard. Hope you don’t mind.
Thanks again.

Date: December 3, 2009 9:52 AM

Sorry about all this…. I am not accepting checks at all from you as she doesnt want to do it that way.. I HAVE TOLD YOU TO DEDUCT THE WESTERN UNION TRANSFER CHARGES FROM THE MONEY AND THEN SEND THE REST TO THE DETAILS I GAVE TO YOU….NO CHECKS …. if you cant use western union with the offer i gave to you by deducting the charges and then send the rest,Then forget about renting my home.. This is my last decision……


Date: December 4, 2009 2:13 PM
Hi Martin,

I still havent read from you ..Please let me know if you are still very much interested in my home.


Date: December 4, 2009 2:15 PM

sorry to say in previous mail… Mike and not Martin


[NOTE: Nice. I’ve got him feeling a bit desperate.]

From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 4, 2009 7:19 PM


My apologies for the delay in my response.
But there’s a very good reason – just got out of the hospital this morning.
I think you should know what an interesting and amazing thing that happened yesterday. All I know is that I’m blessed and that I’m confident you’ll be quite proud of me for defending your beautiful home. And I also managed to sent your money via Western Union today!

Here’s the full story from yesterday:
Megan and I went ahead and had our friend, Cermak, drill out the current door locks (they were kind of ugly anyway) put in BRAND NEW electronic key-padded, platinum door hardware. It looks amazing (I think you’ll be quite happy with the improvement on the new locks). So anyway, since we were able to open the doors, we just went ahead and moved all your furniture to the back yard and garage. By the way, don’t be mad, but we cracked that stained-glass lamp with Jesus on it. So sorry. By the end of the day, we got all our stuff moved in and we were unpacking our grow lights and hydroponic gear when this couple pulls into our driveway. I’m guessing you might have accidentally left the rental ad on Craig’s List cause this guy was screaming something about this being HIS house. He didn’t understand that I got there first and he was very upset and wouldn’t calm down. Now see, I don’t take kindly to people who can’t talk calmly and rationally, and unfortunately, neither does my 85 lbs. Mastiff/Bulldog named Monkey. Anyway, I tried to explain to this guy that you, Johnson Aladney, owned the house and that you were in NY doing God’s great work. So now this guy gets super-duper angry (Guess I would be too if I saw such an awesome house in Silver Lake for $1000 and someone beat me too it – can’t blame him, right?), but then he ATTACKS ME with his Corona Light beer bottle! Must have been the alcohol. I’ll admit, I was very scared when this guy started cutting my face with the now broken bottle. Luckily, Monkey got at him before I completely bled-out. Monkey was able to get a good chunk of the guy’s neck, left arm, and lower back. He ran off bleeding, but Meg called the cops. The police found guy passed out and he’s now in critical condition at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. They not sure if he’s ever going to be able to talk again. What’s really crazy about this guy is that he wanted your place sooo bad that he had a fake identification card made with YOUR HOME’S ADDRESS ON IT. Amazing! The lengths people will go to in getting an awesome house like yours. I’m just glad this guy didn’t die on your property. That would suck (pardon my French).

Ok, so attached is the picture of what happened to me before I got stitches at the hospital. Thought you might get a kick out of it. But don’t worry, I certainly don’t hold you responsible at all, even though my Uncle, “Mr. Lawyer” as we call him, thinks you might be at fault for not taking down the post. I don’t like legal stuff, so don’t worry, I’m just going to ignore the hospital bill and allow God in all his good graces to take care of us.

And lastly, the money!
Dick was very, very sad that no one came to pick up the money. I think when he heard that your solicitor was a female, he may have gotten a little exited and was probably hoping for a lunch date. Which, ironically, would have been paid for by me! Ha ha. I reassured him that he’s an attractive guy and asked if he would send the money to you via Western Union (by the way, I’m going to send you $1596.46 now for the delay to cover interest, the broken Jesus lamp, the old locks and such. Hope that’s ok with you). Attached is the screen shot of the Western Union transfer.

I sent: $1596.46 to
Shannon Renfro
at 1800 N. Broadway
Escondido, CA 92026

1329 Silver Lake Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026 (he uses our old address cause he’s embarrassed about his apartment).
MTCN #(Ten Digit Number): 2112651450
(I’ve attached the receipt).




[NOTE: Ok, so what I did was attempt to send $1.59 with Western Union, but not hit the final “send” button, then just screen capture everything and photoshop the receipt. The gory photos are from a short film I did.]

Date: December 5, 2009 8:37 AM

Hi Mike,

I am very happy to see your mail and now i am happy that you are truly interested in my home… I just wanted you to know that there are little problems here with the transfer you made.The fund as said by western union will be available for pick up by the next 72hours which was meant to be available for pick up in just minutes,so you made that mistake and i want you to correct it right now so the money would be picked up right away..All you need do is call western union right now and tell them to activate it right now for pick up.. Also,i called my solicitor is California which is Shannon and she is not available at the moment to help me get the money and so i just want you to go to any western union location and lodge this problem with that and also tell them to help you change the address you sent the money to and the name also…… So go to any western union location or call them and tell them to change the receivers details to the below details

Receivers name:Tracy Reid
Receivers address:1479 Morse Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43229

I am very sorry for any inconvinience here but since the money wont be ready for pick up till the next 72hours,there will be problems with that and also my solicitor in CA is not around anymore to pick the money she travelled anyway to let you know and now i request to change the details of the receiver to my other solicitor in Columbus,Ohio who is very much available right now to pick the funds.

Get back to me asap today as soon as the receivers details are changed and also make sure you call them so they can activate it and the money would be available for pick up in the next few minutes and not 72hours..

Thanks and God Bless You


[NOTE: Sure am glad he’s happy about my face being cut open. Heh.]

From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 5, 2009 5:55 PM

Hi blessed Johnson.

I’m so very glad you’re happy. Also, we’re more than interested in your home, WE’RE ALREADY MOVED IN! Praise the lord!
We love the house so much we unpacked and got settled in very quickly.

I personally, however, am still feeling some pain from the attack. While the comfort of knowing Jesus will eventually heal me, I sure wish my faith was as least as strong as Percocet pills.
I’ve attached a picture of me finally pealing off some of the scabs from the cuts to my face from the crazy guy claiming to be the owner of the house. Warning… it’s pretty gory. I just can’t seem to stop bleeding.

Anyway, I’ve called Western Union and talked to Kate (employee #JK69FU) and she helped me make the change to instant delivery so that your new receiver can pick up the money right now.
Unfortunately, it cost me an extra $15 to make it “instant”, and you said I could deduct Western Union Charges from rent, but since I’ve already transferred the entire $1596.46 I need you to PayPal me back the $15. Just PayPal me the $15 for Western Union fee. Thanks.

Oh, and one other problem – the Western Union website and database are undergoing maintenance, so the change may not show up on the website or over the phone. BUT Kate assured me that if Tracy goes in person to any Western Union store, and whispers the MTCN number to the store clerk, she’ll get the money.

This is very important, so remember: YOU HAVE TO GO TO WESTERN UNION IN PERSON AND WHISPER (yes, a quiet whisper) THE MTCN NUMBER TO THE CLERK!

Kate said if you mess that up, they can’t hand over the cash. It’s their policy.
Seems strange to me, but that’s why I don’t normally use Western Union and why I’d rather send you a check directly. Oh well.
Anyway, Tracy should be good to go once she gets to the Western Union branch where it’s the fastest and safest way to send and receive money worldwide. Heh.

Thanks again and blessed be as blessed does.

PS: We found a strange locked cabinet safe up in the attic (picture attached). Hope you don’t mind, but we’re going to open it tomorrow with this new blowtorch we got at Home Depot. Since we’re both followers of Christ, I figured locked cabinets are tools of the devil trying to keep us brothers from having an open and honest relationship. If you’d rather us not damage the safe, let me know what the code is, but hurry, the wife is super anxious to use the blowtorch. Probably cause she’s still got a little of that crazy Atlanta redneck inside her.

Date: December 6, 2009 1:13 AM


I am not sure if you are truly interested in this home because it seems that you are joking with me with the money stuff.The money isnt sent at all and you just dont seem to be serious about my home.. The money isnt tracking at all and its never done like that on phone or website..



[NOTE: Uh oh, is he on to me? Better make sure he knows who’s in charge.]

From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 6, 2009 6:38 PM

For Shame Johnson!

How dare you question my sincerity in wanting to care for your beautiful home on this, the holiest day of the week!
I’m very angry that you think I’m joking after having my face cut open while DEFENDING YOUR HOUSE!

If someone had gone to Western Union in person, you would have gotten your money. I am a man of my word, sir. I am a good Christian. I tell no lies. I told you the money would NOT be trackable because I called in person. It’s like you’re not even reading my messages. Maybe you are having a hard time reading the computer screen? Don’t feel bad, Dick has the same problem. Says, he’s going to get a big 30″ LCD HDTV for his desk. Can you believe that? 30″ on a 22″ desk from Office Depot? Dick cracks me up.

Anyway, I’m going to cancel the money transfer tomorrow, unless you say you’re sorry right now!!!!
Apologize immediately or we’ll donate the $1596.46 to a good Christian charity like Focus on the Family.
You got that? Once you apologize, I’ll re-send the money, however I’m deducting $296.46 for the fees, my expense in putting in new locks, and a little to calm my anger. That leaves $1300 for you if you apologize now. Thank you very much.

I’m sure you’re also a man of your word and a good Christian, so I’ll wait with baited breath for your atonement.

PS: We got the safe open and we found what appears to be some very valuable Cigars, women’s Jewelry, and what I assume is Oregano or Cat Nip. We’ll talk about why a “coordinator of United State Missionary Organization” would have such contraband, but only after you say you’re sorry, ok?

Date: December 7, 2009 7:05 PM

I am sorry.


[NOTE: Holy shit! That worked? Wow.]

From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 7, 2009 5:52 PM

Amen Johnson!

I knew I could trust you, and I knew you are also a man of his word.
Excellent. Thank you.

I’m now going to send you $1425 because of your nice, humble, and succinct apology.
Very, very classy, by the way. No need for excess words I say.

Ok, we have but one final problem before I transfer the full amount. That problem, my friend, is my friend, Dick (the lonely banker in Rancho Santa Fe, California). Dick doesn’t believe that you’re a real person (keep in mind Dick also believes Jews run Hollywood, but you and I both know it’s the Scientologists). Anyway, Dick then told us he wouldn’t do any more free bank transfers and he’d take back our blow-torch unless he was 100% positive you’re real. However Dick also said that if you ARE in fact real he will donate $599 to your United State Christian Organization as an apology for not believing you’re a living, breathing human. Very exciting because I trust you and know that you’re real.

I know the perfect way to prove to Dick that you’re real and so we can both send our $1425 and $599 payments immediately:
Take a picture of yourself holding a sign that reads: “P0ned by Mike Vaughn”
I’ve attached a photo of me as an example. “P0ned,” as you know, is an old latin phrase that loosely translates to, “my trusted friend cares for my nice home.” As you can see, my cuts have healed quite nicely and I’m back at work now. I used to look more like Hugh Grant, but the plastic surgery has turned me into something of a cross between Jeremy Piven and Vince Vaughn. I’m not complaining… I mean have you seen those Hugh Grant movies lately? Ugh. My word.

So, quickly, just take a photo with a sign that says:

“P0ned by:
Mike Vaughn”

Then I’ll show your photo to Dick and immediately transfer your money as God as my witness.

I Look forward to seeing your blessed face with the message!
Jeremiah 2:15: “sWord up, it is thee code word, matter not wherein thou say it, thou knoweth he shall be heard.”

Oh, one last thing: I told our congregation about our conversations and they were very happy and impressed with how generous you’ve been in renting the home to us for such a low price and for letting us move in without full payment. Very, very Christian of you. They wanted to show you their gratitude by saluting you on the Church Board for the next two weeks. I’ve attached an image of the sign they made to remind us all that it’s good to believe! I didn’t mention the safe full of valuable Cigars, Jewelry, and Cat Nip because I’m sure you have a reasonable explanation… like maybe you were researching the effects of those material items on devout, God-fearing Christians. Maybe I should just mail you the Cigars, Jewelry, and Cat Nip. Does that interest you, or should we sell them and keep the money?

Date: December 8, 2009 9:17 PM



[NOTE: Crap. He’s caught on. Even I can detect the sarcasm in that “ok.” Darn.]

From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 9, 2009 12:31 PM

Dearest outreacher Johnson.

I’m sad because it’s taking you so long to get a simple photo with a message to me.
I hope Dick isn’t right and I believe that you’re real. I hope you are.
You said you live in NY so I can’t imagine how hard it would be to find a digital camera.

Perhaps you’ve taken your oath of poverty and you just don’t need the money anymore.
Is that the case?

Four hail Mary’s and an Ahmen to you, my trusted friend.

Date: December 11, 2009 10:44 PM

Please dont bother mailing me anymore…



[NOTE: One last ditch effort….]

From: Mike Vaughn
Date: December 11, 2009 11:28 PM

Oh, my dearest made-in-God’s-image Johnson.

You really sound depressed. Must be the weather I’m sure. I know how you feel since it’s been nothing but rain around here.

This will be my last email to you since you don’t seem to need or want the money, so we’ll donate the $1400 to the Focus on the Family Charity. Bless you for the home and for allowing the money to go where it is truly needed.

BUT we really need that photo of you with the sign because the man claiming to own your home has come out of his coma and some police detectives are starting to ask questions. I’m sure your photo will clear everything up.

After all this fighting and bloodshed to defend your home, the woman and I have decided that it’s time for a vacation.
We’ve decided to take a month-long trip to the lovely town of Port Louis on the Island of Mauritius. (I also have some business at the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation, but don’t tell the woman, ok?)

I’m going to take your box of Cigars, Jewelry, and Marijuana (yes we had a friend figure out that it wasn’t cat nip at all – truth be told, we’re glad you’re a good Christian with certain flaws. It takes a little pressure off of us) and we’re going to trade your valuables to the highest bidders in Mauritius then donate the money to the nearest Missionary in your blessed name.

Again, we need that photo, or the Detectives said they would be joining us on our trip to Mauritius. I assume just to annoy me, but they wouldn’t say exactly why.
So please, send the photo and I’ll pay whatever you need to hurry the process along.

Thanks and blessed be as blessed does.


[NOTE: Sadly, that was the last I heard from him. Big thank to my friends “the Kidz” who were able to track this guy down to his host “Cyber City” in Ebene on the East African Island of Mauritius. Hence my last jab about going to Mauritius. Google map this island to see how small it is. Wow.]

—————————————————– the end —————————————————–


19 Responses to “My Inappropriate handling of a Craig’s List Rental Scam”

  1. Mike…
    That was hilarious!!! Something similar happened to me when I moved to DC. LOL. I loved how you handled it. I couldn’t stop laughing and reading thru the tears. Your quite the comedian…


  2. How stupid do these assholes think we are?!?


  3. I like how he apologised despite your amazingly unrealistic story. A true gentleman!

    Ruud Van Nistleroo

  4. Absolutely hilarious!!!

    I posted a sales ad for a video game console. I think I received about 6 requests for purchase from Nigerian scammers, each of which had a friend doing missionary work in West Africa and needed the console to unwind after a long day of soul winning!

    Really pathetic how transparent these criminals are. I can only hope that each of them will get stiff sentences or at the very least, reap some sort of punishment in this life.

    Richard Romano

  5. Very nice information. Thanks for this.


  6. Hi,
    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Jane the Virus

  7. awesome!


  8. Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!

    Tommy Twotone

  9. Vince Vaughn is one of the best comedians today, he is also a very good looking guy.”..

    Mariah Barnes

  10. Wow dude, this is really helpful information, much appreciated.


  11. I love this article!! I have been reading this blog for quite sometime now, and this is my first comment. I would like to tell you that I enjoy reading this blog, and that I love thought provoking articles like this!

    Bob Osma

  12. I wish I saved the exchange I had with my Nigerian missionary friend. He and his family answered my ad to rent my house…a twist! Are you curious how it went?


  13. I couldn’t resist commenting. 🙂


  14. Brilliant site, I had not noticed previously in my searches!
    Carry on the wonderful work!

    Shaun S. Phillips

  15. Man, you wrote a long text.

    Serial Coder

  16. excelent post, keep it coming…


  17. Hi there

    Thanks for sharing, I have digged this post

    Jamie Iomo

  18. ***SCAM!! House for rent; $1000 3bed/2bath
    2466 Aurora palm springs ca 92262

    Our emails back and forth to this scammer are exactly the replies, and clearly written by the same person as the story/emails above.! to good to be true!

    Name:Benjamin Egan

    Proving he “owns” the house:


  19. P

Leave a Reply