Spotting an Online Scammer May Not Be As Easy As You Think: Read This to Learn How to Really Protect Yourself!

Do you think you that it would be easy for you to spot an online scammer?  Have you received every poorly written email in the book trying to get your personal information?  What if it wasn’t so simple to determine that you were being scammed?  Perhaps this scammer is better educated than the usual con artists!  It was bound to happen.  It was inevitable that they’d eventually get smarter.  How can you protect yourself?  Read on to find out about my run-in with a very good con artist from South Africa and how I avoided being scammed.  I must apologize in advance, for this post reads more like a short essay.  It’s lengthy, but it’s important that you have all the information.  For the next week or so I plan to make additional posts to this blog detailing the steps I took to catch this seemingly legitimate landlord. 

The steps I used to investigate him don’t seem to be common knowledge on the web.  I found nothing about these resources on any of the typical scammer sites.  These resources have come together from my own research and testing, so you can be sure that at this time, this is the best, up-to-date way of catching a scammer.  This information will also help you find out immediately if you are being scammed, so that you don’t waste a lot of time conversing back and forth with these idiots.  Good luck and if you have questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.  

So we’re on to a new adventure (not necessarily by choice, but we’re making the best of it).  We’ve been in Germany since February, 2011.  I understood that we could be here for up to three months with our entry stamp, but once we were here we started dealing with a branch of immigration who said getting a visa was not a concern at the time (we had left all of our paperwork in Egypt and had to have some friends pick it up and bring it back to the U.S., so it could be mailed to us here).  

We got our paperwork in the mail in November of 2011 and tried for weeks to make a visa appointment, but could not get a hold of the woman we were instructed to deal with.  Tony just went in and they told him that even though he has been here on a medical visa, there was no longer a need for his family to remain here with him.  In order to rectify the situation, we all needed to leave the country for three months, return and re-apply.  They gave us one month to prepare for this.  They tried everything to keep us here, but there was nothing they could do.  They did not penalize us fee-wise like they should have and gave us a full month, rather than five days, to make plans. 

The dilemma is that if Graywyn and I leave ahead of Tony (because his medical visa does not run out until May), our three months begins when we leave.  His wouldn’t begin until he left, so we decided to leave together.  He is not released to travel by his doctors, who were very upset at this news and also tried everything to keep us all here.  His doctor finally signed off on it, but only for him to travel by plane one to two hours (he was not happy about even allowing this).  That meant that we had to pretty much stay within Europe.  

We researched a lot of places and finally decided on Dublin, Ireland.  We’re set to leave on Saturday, March 30th.  I plan to continue to post about Germany, but will also be adding Ireland posts too.  Surprisingly, I sent Tony’s resume/CV off to a lot of restaurants and landed him three interviews within two hours.  So we may be there three months or longer, who knows.  

In searching for short term rentals, I was faced with an array of online scams.  It wasn’t so long ago in Frankfurt that I was faced with the same.  The latest apartment scam (for renters) is to offer an apartment or house in a really nice area for an incredibly low price.  Sometimes ads are copied directly from real ads (including pictures).  Sometimes pictures are just taken from various sites across the net.  

Normally I think of myself as someone who isn’t easily scammed online, but I have to say that I dealt with a new breed of South African scammers over the past couple of weeks.  The scammer I dealt with was completely different than the ones I’ve seen in the past.  His emails were written in perfect English (that made sense), he was not pushy, asked for a very reasonable deposit and did not bless me or tell me he’d mail me the keys after I wired him payment.  

He responded to an ad that I posted on the Dublin Craigslist.  He told me had an apartment in Dublin 2 on Pearse Street for 700 Euros a month, requiring a 400 Euro deposit.  This was precisely in the area we wanted to be in, so I emailed him back and asked him about nearby public transportation, etc.  He promptly responded, giving me a very detailed description of what was within walking distance of the area.  Here was his response: 

Hello Beth,

It is a two bed apartment and the refundable security deposit is EUR400.

Yes three to four months rental is okay.You will pay extra EUR35 for
internet monthly

The apartment is located on Pearse Street, D2 Dublin

Only a 5 minute walk to Trinity College and Dublin Tourism Centre

Grand Canal Dock Dart Station and Heuston Train Station,Connolly Train
Station and The 02 Arena are within few minutes walk

Dublin Castle, National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology and Jameson
Distillery are within short walk.

Dublin airport(DUB) is about 17 minutes drive away

I will look forward to your reply.




I emailed him immediately and asked him for a phone number so that I could call him.   A short while later he emailed me that he was traveling at the moment and was heading to the United States to take care of some family matters, but that he would return in a week.  He said he’d give me a call once he arrived in the U.S. in the next day or so.  True to his word, he called our Skype number and left a voicemail message.  Although he called when I asked him to, I missed his call by a few minutes and when I realized he had called, I attempted to return his call (yes, it was a U.S. number), but couldn’t get a hold of him.  I then saw that he emailed me, saying that he was tired from his flight and was going to be getting some sleep, but would try again.  

Keep in mind that we started mailing back and forth around March 1st and over the course of a couple of weeks, we exchanged some 80 emails between the two of us.  I did not hear much from him, but he always answered my messages.  After about a week and a half, he told me that it had taken him a bit longer in the U.S. than he had planned, but that he had returned to London and would be traveling on to Dublin soon.  He also assured me that he would be in Dublin when we got there to get us into the apartment.  

I asked him what we needed to do to secure the apartment and he said he needed a signed lease, which he emailed me (I’m family with leases and he emailed me a Word document, rather than copying and pasting it into the body of the email like so many scammers do; it read as a legal agreement to my eyes), and said that he only required the 400 Euro deposit and that we could take care of the rent when we got there.  He said he wanted me to Western Union him the money.  This, of course, was the first warning bell.

 I told him that I really didn’t want to use Western Union and couldn’t I wire transfer the money directly into his bank account, but he said he didn’t feel comfortable doing that because of identity theft.  I then researched apartment rental scams and found a lot of information about how much landlords are also getting scammed.  At this point, I began searching all of the online scam warning sites, including scanning the lists of known scammer’s names and email addresses.  I could find nothing about him.  In a previous email I asked him if he could tell me more about himself and he told me that the apartment was owned by him and his wife and that they were both Irish/Canadians.  When I researched his name (Kelly Kehoe), I found this to be a somewhat common name for Irish/Canadians.  

The Western Union thing continued to nag at us, but by all online scammer standards, this didn’t fit the profile.  He provided me with his full name and address in the UK, including a UK phone number.  When I continued to argue about our reservations, he pointed out that he needed to bring his identification to collect the money and that he could only collect it in the UK (I was not convinced that this was so).  The next trouble started when we tried to call his UK number.  We could not get it to connect.  He insisted that he was receiving calls just fine.  I never got it to work and he later claimed that he tried to call me, but also could not get through.  

I then began researching Ireland rental scams and found a lot of information about them.  Again, his scam didn’t fit the profile.  I also researched landlord/tenant rights and tried to find information about checking on the legitimacy of a landlord.  I could not find anything.  The only thing I could find was that landlords have to be registered and that all rental properties also need to be registered.  I was able to find a list from December, 2011 of all the properties that were listed as registered rentals in Dublin.  After a couple of hours scanning down the list, which was in no particular order, I found the property address he had given me and everything matched up to what he said.  It was a registered rental property.  That made me feel slightly better, but then I found information about a form that needs to be filled out when a tenant moves in and that a 60 Euro fee has to be paid. 

 I emailed him and asked him about this form.  He told me it was already taken care of and to not worry about it (I even offered to pay for this with the deposit, but he did not rise to the bait).  When then called the police department closest to the rental address and inquired as to whether or not there have been any recent scams for that address.  We were told no and also that there was no way to check on the landlord’s name.  

I then came across a website that can sometimes be used to help identify apartment rental scams.  It’s a free site that allows you to upload photos from the ad into the site.  The photo is then checked to see if it has been listed anywhere else on the Internet.  It doesn’t search the name of the photo, but rather looks for the image itself (look for link below).  I checked all of the photos he gave me after reading an article about a woman nearly falling for a scam in the UK who also used this site and discovered that the photos her scammer had sent her were from a legitimate ad on a different site.  The scammer had even used the same ad description, but had lowered the price (making it nearly irresistible).  

Keep in mind that this site isn’t full proof.  In fact, I also loaded pictures of our own apartment, which had very recently been posted on several ad sites and the site could not find them.  I was successful in finding the picture I use for my blog, Facebook, ETC, but of all the places I have this same photo posted, the site only recognized Gather.  

So, I continued to research and at this point, “Kelly” told me that it was fine if we didn’t want it, he would rent it to somebody else.  It was then that I decided that I needed to do some research on tracking emails.  I learned that it is relatively easy to get the IP address from most email providers; all, but Gmail.  Gmail apparently uses random IP addresses, making it difficult to trace it by looking at the header of the email.  I ultimately did find a better way to track the email and I was successful in discovering that the emails were originating from South Africa (I will explain how I did this below).  It’s a simple process and anyone can do it.  

Now I began researching his UK phone number and once I did, I found that the reason the number wouldn’t work was because it was a forwarded number through a well-known service in the UK and that these numbers are very rarely used legitimately (only for some business purposes, but definitely not personal).  When I looked into the U.S. number he’d called me with, I found similar information.  

Next, we called the police department in Dublin back and we updated them with this new found information for their records, so that if anyone else was smart enough to check on it with them, they would at least have the information.  We gave the officer the name and email address “Kelly” was using, the address of the property he was claiming he was renting and the IP address and location information from the tracker.  I also submitted this information to some of the more popular scammer lists. 

So that’s it.  This one was particularly difficult to crack, but I wanted to share this story with those of you out there (no matter where you are), because it’s important that you know that not all the scams will be easy to spot and some of them will take a great deal of investigation on your part.  The good news is that you can do this for free online if you know what to look for.  The better news is that I’m more than happy and willing to share this information with you.  After reading through this extremely long post, I’ve decided that it would be better to go over each step for tracking down a scammer as a post.  I will work on posting this information throughout the week, so follow me to ensure you get all the information. 

The scammer’s information:

Alias:  Kelly Kehoe


IP Address:

Provided UK Address:  83 Larch Crescent, Hayes, Greater London UB4 9EB, UK

Actual Location:  Nigeria

Provided UK Phone:  +447024061786

Provided U.S. Phone:  615-732-4701

Property in Question:  45 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, Ireland



Can Americans find something good to eat in Frankfurt, Germany?

When we first got to Germany, we were excited to be able to eat something we love again:  PORK.  I know, it sounds awful, but after living in Cairo for five months, we were really missing our sausage and bacon!  One thing I learned to rely on in Cairo was a website called Otlob (  The site allowed users to create a free account, inputting their home address and phone number.  Just about all of the food places that delivered in town were listed by area.  English-speaking users could put in their order online using English menus.  The order would then be turned into a third-party English/Arabic speaker, who would call the restaurant and give them the order in Arabic.  The worked well and allowed us to try a lot of different food.

We stayed in Cairo until the January, 2011 riots.  Tony was shot several times by in the legs by the police (we originally thought he was shot 24 times, but upon later examination by a German doctor, we found that 28 shots had actually penetrated skin; this is not including several other shots embedded in his steel-toed boots).  The U.S. brought us to Germany for medical attention on an evacuation flight (there’s more to the story and I’ll tell it on another day).  Tony was taken directly to the hospital from the airport, because he had sepsis and was entering into organ failure.  Graywyn and I were left to find a hotel at about 4 a.m. German time.  Every hotel was booked, except for the very expensive Sheraton at the airport.  We stayed there for four days until I found a sublet in Bornheim.

The woman who rented me the flat was a lifesaver.  She allowed us to stay in the sublet for several months.  When it was time to move out, we had a lot of difficulty finding a place, because we wanted to stay in the Bornheim area.  As Americans, it was very difficult to find an apartment of our own.  Although we searched for months, we were forced to move to yet another sublet in an area called Höchst.  We weren’t thrilled, because although the public transportation reaches everywhere, it isn’t as readily available here.  Since moving, we’ve secured our own lease back in the Bornheim/Nordend area and are moving at the end of January.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about food in Germany, it’s that much of it is the same.  Some people are curious about American food here and whether or not you can order it at restaurants.  I wish the answer were simple.  Although there are a few places in the Bornheim area that I like, I find much of the food to be the same.  If you’ve spent any time in Germany, or at least in Frankfurt, you’ll probably notice that a lot of the menus are the same.  It’s not uncommon for a seemingly pizza place to also have an Asian, Indian, Italian and American menu.  For Americans, menus that have an American section are usually disappointing.  I’ve come to realize that what Germans think of as American appetizers is really just burgers and fries.  So yes, you can get burger and fries when eating out, but it may not taste very American.

Of course the usual fast food places are here (McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, etc.), but I haven’t found a great many choices when it comes to eating food that I’m used to.  One of the best places I’ve found is O’Reilly’s Pub near Hauptbahnhof (Central Station).  I love to order their club sandwich there, but it can get expensive.

There’s a burger stand on the corner right where we used to live near the Bergerstraße that has excellent food.  We used to order their cheeseburgers and fries regularly and so far, I think theirs are the best I’ve had here.  It’s a funny corner where three streets meet (Spessarstraße, Mainkurstraße and Arnsburger Straße.  The Bergerstraße is visible from the burger stand and customers can either order their food to go or sit outside at one of the outdoor tables.  This is also where the public bathroom is located (be sure to bring 50 cents to use these toilets) and is directly across the street from where the big Wednesday and Saturday market is in this area.

There are many places offering pizza and as an American used to pizza you get in the states, I found it difficult to find pizza from any of the places that I loved in the Bornheim area.  I do like Joey’s Pizza, but as with many of the pizza places in the area, the pizzas are small and expensive, so most people order one pizza for themselves, because of the small size.  There is a place called the Pizza & Pasta Factoria that is very cool and child-friendly.  In fact, it’s very close to our new apartment.  Located at Martin-Luther Straße 33 (60316), they have a very lovely outdoor seating area with a small area for the children to play in.  This keeps Graywyn busy while we’re trying to eat and she nibbles on her food!  I like their pizza, but I really love their pasta, especially the pesto.  They also have amazingly large (and good) salads.

If you want to get a pizza more reminiscent of the states, you have to order from Höchst.  And by the way, you can use a website at  Even though it says pizza, you can also order from just about any restaurant.  I use Google translate to automatically translate their pages into English and that way we can put our order in online.  There is a pizza place in this complex that has an amazingly large (rectangular) thick-crust pizza for cheap (around 10 Euros for a family size pizza that should be enough to feed a family of 4 or 5).  Unfortunately, their sauce is a little bit spicy and we started ordering from a place called Call-A-Pizza instead.  EVERYTHING we order from them is great and I’m addicted to their pepperoni pizza.  For 4.50 Euros, Tony can order his cheese pizza and depending on what size I order for me and Graywyn, I can order a pepperoni pizza for about 6 to 8 Euros.  So far, Call-A-Pizza has my vote for the best pizza in Frankfurt.

One thing to note when ordering pizza in the Bornheim area is that pepperoni is not always pepperoni.  It’s also the German name for peppers.  If you want a traditional pepperoni pizza, you have to order a pizza with salami or sometimes pepperoni wurst.  It really depends on the place.  It’s good to clarify if you’re unfamiliar with the place.

As far as Mexican restaurants, we haven’t found any that we like.  There is one place that was within walking distance of our old apartment and we went there because we liked the people, the drinks and the place.  They also have indoor and outdoor seating and a child basket full of coloring books and toys to keep small children entertained.  Some nights they have a live band.  It’s called El Pacifico and is located at Sandweg 79.  None of their food really tastes Mexican, but it’s okay.  I always order the fajitas, because though they’re just not entirely right, it’s the closest I can find there.  They also make a mean Tequila Sunrise.

If you’re strolling through Frankfurt, take a walk down the Bergerstraße and be sure to check out some of the döners places.  The best one we’ve found is the Döneria (Weidenbornstraße 4, 60385).  I’ve had döners at a couple other places and find that theirs are amazingly moist and good.  My favorite is the chicken with a sort of ranch sauce on it.

As far as Spanish food, we like to eat at a place down the Bergerstraße (232) called Mi Casa.  Their La Paella is excellent, but you can eat a hefty meal of appetizers and easily walk away full.

Of course there are many interesting places to eat in Frankfurt and there is a lot of good food, but if you want the type of American food you’re used to, you’ll have to make it yourself.  You’ll find lots of Spanish-inspired food, but nothing that is truly Mexican food.  There are a handful of places that our Italian friend says are authentic.  The final place I’ll tell you about is in Höchst (Sossenheimer Weg).  It’s called the Asia Bistro and they have the best Asian food we’ve had here.  In fact, their food is right up there with some of the best places I’ve eaten at in the U.S.  Otherwise, most Asian food we eat is tasteless and boring (or at least that’s been our experience).  You’ll find the Asia Bistro at Sossenheimer Weg 178 in Höchst.  I’d recommend the fried rice (it’s amazingly like the rice you get in the U.S.), the wonton soup (the best we’ve ever had) and the fried wantons.  We’ve also introduced some good recipes to them (crab Rangoon and moo shu pork), so maybe they’ll be adding some more good things to the menu soon!

Shopping for American Groceries in Frankfurt, Germany

I would have posted sooner, but they were working on something in our neighborhood and managed to knock out the Internet and phone service for everyone who has our service.  It put a real damper on my school work and my freelance work and I’ve been playing catch-up ever since!

For us, living outside of the United States is amazing, but you always miss things about home, especially the food.  Going without our favorite meals just isn’t an option for us, so we’ve found ways to either substitute food we can’t find or we’ve found where we can get it. Check back for updates, because I’ll be talking a lot about what foods/ingredients are available in Germany (or at least, which ones are available in Frankfurt) and where to find them.

When I look around the Internet, I find a lot of posts asking where to find American ingredients.  In Frankfurt, people will tell you that the Galeria at Konstablerwache has a real “American food”.  Some will send you to Real.  It’s true that these places have some American food, but each has a very small section with just a few options.  Both places have virtually the same choices.  These ingredients may change, but here’s what I’ve found at each place:



Macaroni & Cheese (not Kraft, but an off brand)

Cake mixes

Cake frosting

Jack Daniels Mustard

Baking soda


Strawberry Poptarts

American syrup

Baking soda

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

Brownie Mix

Off-brand macaroni & cheese

Refried beans

Keep in mind that the above lists are just some of the items I’ve found there and are only to the best of my memory.  You can find baking soda in some grocery stores, but it’s not something I find to be readily available.  The other source for pure American brands is  Unfortunately, you end up paying a lot, because it’s imported.  I don’t think you save money by order from Amazon.  You can just as easily have an American friend or family member go shopping for you and have it mailed here. has a variety of things available.  You’ll find everything from cereal to chips, candy and other odds and ends.  I know I’ve seen Bisquick available at one of the two stores, but I can’t remember if that was at Real or Galeria.  Neither store has a very big section, so if you’re not going there for something specific, check out the Galeria.  Real takes a little bit more time to get to and it’s much easier if you have a car.

If you’ve spent any time in Germany, you’ve probably come to realize that finding good Mexican food here is pointless.  You have to make it at home.  We’ve managed to make some very good Mexican food on our (of course, it helps that Tony is a trained chef and that I love to cook and experiment).  Rewe stores are excellent for some Mexican ingredients, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that’s truly spicy here.  We buy the “hot” salsa and end up adding jalapeno sauce to it to spice it up a bit.  You’ll find taco seasoning mixes, soft tortilla shells, refried beans and salsa at stores like Rewe.  Some large Rewe’s have Ortega spice mixes.  Personally, we prefer to mix our own.  There are a lot of good recipes on the Internet (and we plan on compiling a Mexican e-book to offer on here soon).  I save old jars, wash them out and use them to store my homemade spice mixes.  This mini Pesto jar has what’s left of the last taco seasoning mix I made. 

Do you have a question about where to find something?  Ask me and I’ll do my best to answer!

I have a big mouth, deranged thoughts and I’m here to stay!

My family and I left the United States in August of 2010 to go to Cairo, Egypt.  In February, 2011, we left Egypt and began a new adventure in Frankfurt, Germany.  Why we left each place and how we got there is a different story for another day and I’ll get to it, but for now, I wanted to open with a quick “hello” and a little insight to what I’ll be writing about on here.

The main focus of this blog will be about living as an expat (or a foreigner) in Frankfurt, Germany, but I will most likely dive into my memory of what it was like to live in Cairo too.  I make a living as a freelance writer.  It’s not always a great living, but it works for me and allows me to take care of my daughter instead of sticking her in daycare or school.  I plan to talk about everything with this blog, but you can expect to find a lot of information about living in Frankfurt as a non-German-speaking foreigner.  We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles to create things like we’re accustomed to in America.  Germany doesn’t always make that easy and though options are available, sometimes you have to either know where to look or go out of your way to find it.  Little by little, I plan to address various expat issues, including where to find certain food ingredients, good things to see and places to stop, and some of the more serious questions (like finding an apartment, job and getting a visa).

You’ll also likely catch some of my more deranged thoughts, so don’t be shocked when you take a look into my evil little mind.

I welcome you to my blog and hope to stay fairly consistent with my posts.  As I add information about living in Germany, please feel free to post your own questions to me or suggest topics.  The same goes for writing, working as a freelancer and living as an expat in Cairo.  I can probably be helpful about a lot of different things and the purpose of this blog is to provide information to people.  I noticed that a lot of blogs offer good expat information, but they don’t answer quite everything.  I’m hoping to answer some of the unanswered questions that I see floating around the Internet about Germany.

The Winded Gypsy a.k.a. Beth Lytle

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