Creepy-ass CL advert: cult in Texas?
November 11, 2017 7:48 PM   Subscribe

Yeah, so I recently glanced through the rooms offered section of Craigslist and noticed one that was directly advertising to single parents and encouraging them to move to Dallas. The text was about 90% red flag and heavily implied that the group writing it was in a cult, but not necessarily in a way that made me think "obvious joke." It's CL, so grains of salt ahoy, but: is there a chance this is a serious ad? And if so, who the hell do I warn?

For context, I'm in Austin, where the ad was placed, but the ad specifies a move to Dallas, which is three hours away.

I flagged the original ad, but here's the full text:

Housing For A Single Parent - Must Be Willing to Relocate.

Are you a struggling parent with little or no family support? Are you tired of the struggles and interested in an opportunity to relocate to the Dallas area? We are an extended family with a support system that could be a blessing to you and your children. We would assist you with the basic necessities of life and help get y'all to this area. What we are seeking in return is for your help around the home and assistants in the household income source. You need to have a clear background, be able to pass a drug test, have a valid driver licenses and be teachable. Those are the primary requirements. The holidays are right around the corner and if this isn't looking like it is going to be a great holiday season for you and your children. This could be the blessing you been seeking. Please only sincere inquiries and serious about relocating.

I would really like to believe that this is just some person making creepy horror-story art on Craigslist, and if you can convince me that this is all some sort of elaborate hoax, I would love that. But if this is a legitimate ad.... well, it's targeting vulnerable single parents and trying specifically to lure in children as well. It freaks me out. Is this a calling card of a known cult? Does anyone in Dallas know who the heck these people might be?
posted by sciatrix to Human Relations (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: So, this does strike me as totally creepy, but not really cult-ish. I found a couple recent ads that sound similar. If I am not drawing a mistaken connection between these ads, then I suspect a lonely man with a little bit of money who has weird fantasies about becoming the white knight savior in some struggling woman's story.
posted by juliplease at 8:15 PM on November 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yup. I think the two ads linked by juliplease are written by the same person, and some of the language in the ad linked in the OP sound similar, e.g. all three spell assistance as assistants.

The ad in the OP worries me because it is asking a lot - work in the home and outside of it - and only offering 'the basic necessities of life'. I betcha they want people willing to relocate because local people would have local connections who might check up on this 'blessing you been seeking'.
posted by Thella at 8:58 PM on November 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: “need teachable.”

Is terrifying.
posted by bendy at 8:59 PM on November 11, 2017 [29 favorites]

I don't see who or how you would need to warn about this. Like those ads are creepy and anyone responding to them would know that, but nothing in them is illegal.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:43 AM on November 12, 2017

Sounds to me like someone who is trying to “buy” a wife.
posted by Kwadeng at 3:04 AM on November 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Could you forward the post link to your local police department? You could also call the Dallas Police Department non-emergency phone line and ask them/tell them your concerns. Many large city police departments have a few folks (for some an entire department) dedicated to a cyber unit. Even if it's nothing and they are not interested, it might help you rest a little easier knowing you did your due diligence.

And I agree with all of the above, this is super creepy but "teachable" is creepy as fuck.
posted by floweredfish at 5:00 AM on November 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

This sets off all kinds of alarm bells for me too, particularly the relocation (removing the person from their existing support network) and the « teachable » bit (ugh). Creepy AF.
posted by bighappyhairydog at 6:56 AM on November 12, 2017

yeah, this is someone advertising for a cult of two, three at most. it is either a hobbyist wife-beater or an aspiring child molester or, of course, both. but there are plenty of desperate women to abuse who don't have children and still need a place to live ASAP, so I tend to assume the latter.

and yes, I think you can do this legally. so flag the christ out of them but don't get too hopeful about what will happen if you report it. I have seen plenty of ads like this without the single-mother angle. the requirement that the answerer have no job is probably equal parts control/misogyny and simple practicality because she will be busy working 24/7 as an unpaid cleaner and sex worker. wait, that's all parts misogyny and control.

a cult would be better, because then someone who answered the ad would at least have a peer to talk to. on the bright side, maybe he keeps advertising because nobody answers. but there is absolutely more than one person who does this.

" I will not respond to any e-mails that does not provide a description of your struggles. " "no private bath" "room not private"

the idea that nobody would answer who didn't know what they were getting into is pretty sickening too. A. barely literate people are just as likely to be desperate as anybody, maybe more so, and B. no.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:17 AM on November 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

Yuck. There is no question about this being some kind of predator. I looked at other posts and flagged another similar one (in that it specified “no private bath/no private room”) although the angle is different— like they are trying to come at this from a few different angles:

Are you low on cash and need some help? Maybe we can work something out if you have girlfriend or wife. Discreet is a must

Work something out if you have a girlfriend or wife?! Flag, flag, flag
posted by nightrecordings at 10:24 AM on November 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would have only found this moderately creepy if it weren't for the "be teachable" and "assistants in the household income source" parts. If it's not an actual cult or a lure to an abusive situation, it's definitely someone with unhealthy and unsafe delusions of taking someone in, providing for them, and using that leverage to turn into whatever their ideal of a good person/family might be, plus potentially involve them in an illegal "household income source."

i see you've already flagged it, that's probably the best you can do, unless you feel concerned enough to call the local PD's non-emergency line to report it there.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:51 AM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: CL admins themselves are VERY interested in hearing about such things and very grateful to hear - please contact them too. In the olden days I used to get very kind thank yous from them for reporting sex-for-rent ads - I’m sure they would want to know about this and look for patterns.
posted by kalapierson at 11:17 PM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestion to contact CL admins--I've done so. (I didn't even know they existed, so that was really helpful!) Thanks also for the thought to look elsewhere, julieplease, because I just cast a bit of a wider net and found more of these things cast widely across Texas--in addition to the Galveston and Victoria postings, there's versions in San Antonio (and more), Houston (and again), East Texas, Waco, Abilene (again), Oklahoma City, another in Austin, and a few in Dallas itself.

Brr. I'll pass on a tip to Dallas' non-emergency department; I don't think I have the fortitude to track down all the local PDs in all of these places.
posted by sciatrix at 8:57 AM on November 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Nthing others who have suggested contacting law enforcement. The author could be a predator seeking their own victims, but they could also be looking for people to traffic. The offer to "help get y'all to the area" is another red flag. It suggests the poster may be seeking people who lack their own transportation, or that they want to physically take control of the responder (and their children) as quickly as possible.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 11:26 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

FWIW, these types of ads are nothing new and have been around since newspapers invented the personal ad. The now-defunct, often-hilarious You Suck at Craigslist often talked about some of these, such as this one. Yup, literally flag and move on.
posted by Melismata at 12:48 PM on November 13, 2017

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