Off-Topic Suspected Rental Fraud - FYI

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by legend-ary, Tuesday 2nd Aug, 2016.

  1. legend-ary Moderator Staff Team

    United Kingdom Legend The Big Smoke
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    I have been looking to move in the next few months so created a Gumtree listing just so while I go on viewings of flats found on Rightmove & Zoopla, who knows what might come up.

    So as usual I get a text message asking me to send an email to an address for details, very obvious method of stealing email id so I just ignored. Then I got a WhatsApp text message from someone called Laura.. well my messaging with her and following emails are pasted below. Enjoy... I have actually known a person who once lost money in a similar method because the property they were offered wasn't even on the market as someone was already living there. I am an over cautious person to begin with so I kind of guessed the scam before it happened.

    WhatApp

    Laura:

    Hello ,
    I am Laura and i do have a 2 bedroom flat with garden for rent.
    The rent is £800 per month including all bills. The property is located in Woolwich.
    I would need you to provide me with your email address to send you more details and photos of the property.
    Kind Regards

    Me:
    Hi Laura.
    Thanks for getting in touch. Would it be possible to send them over WhatsApp? When is the flat available?
    Best,

    Laura:
    Hi, the image files are too large and so i can only send them to your email with more details of the property.

    Me:
    Okay sure. Not a problem.
    You can send them to xxx@xxxxxx.xx
    Or
    xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxx.com
    [ I was suspicious so gave her an alias IDs so she can't have my actual one]

    Laura:
    Hi,
    I just sent you a details email with photos and more details of the property.
    Kindly reply my email with details about yourself if interested.
    Thanks
    Laura

    She then sent me a long email:

    Laura:


    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: Laura ******
    Date: Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 9:27 PM
    Subject: Lovely 2 bedroom flat for rent in Woolwich
    To:

    Hi ,

    The property address is *** Woolwich Common, London SE18 ***.

    I have attached the photos of the property and i will like you to tell me about yourself if interested. The rent is £800 per month including all bills.

    A lil about me : Am a 35years old fashion designer, very friendly.
    I live in Birmingham. Reasons why we want to rent this place out is so that there will be a permanent occupant that will take care of the flat furniture's and keep the surroundings clean in my absence. We just need life in the flat.

    About the flat : The flat was once a family flat till my old parents acquired a new property in Spain and moved, so i have been left in charge of this flat and nobody occupies the flat at the moment.

    Concerning viewing : I am willing to meet for viewing as soon as possible but i can only travel from Birmingham to attend to serious tenants.

    Move in Requirement : First month rent and one month deposit is required for your move in

    I have a tight working schedule caused by my upcoming fashion show week, which preparations are on for at the moment with my coordinators.

    Thanks and warm regards,

    Laura


    The property was epic and I thought maybe its for real but then I looked closely and the floors didnt match each other. The windows that could be seen were different to the ones visible from outside when I looked at Google StreeView. I then sent her my details (without giving any personally identifiable info) to which she replied:


    Hi *******,

    I have gone through your details and i am willing to rent the flat to you and your family. Yes it does include council tax as well, yes the deposit will be placed into a deposit protection scheme. Its also fine with me for you to move in for September.

    Like i explained to you in my previous email i reside in Birmingham and would need some sort of commitment before i can come down to meet with you for the viewing.

    I am sorry but i don't accept reference, bank statements, cheques, money orders or bank drafts i have had people deceive me with that, and won't accept that from anyone, i have had my own fair share of rental experience since i put this flat out to let.

    So i will need you to make the payment of £800 to me for your deposit which will stand as holding deposit before i can come down to meet with you for the viewing, but if after the viewing you decide not to rent the flat anymore then i will refund the £800 to you instantly.

    First we will have to sign the tenancy agreement contract, which i will send to you via email for you to sign it as well and email me back a copy of the signed contract. The contract will state that once you sign it, you will be making the payment of £800 as holding deposit for the property and will also state that the holding deposit will be refunded to you instantly after the viewing if you choose not to rent the flat.

    If this is ok with you, i will need your full name and current address which i will input in the contract before signing it and emailing it to you for you to sign it as well, then you email me back a copy of the sign contract after which i will provide you with details for the payment of the holding deposit.

    Let me know.

    Kind Regards

    Laura


    As you can see alarm bells were ringing louder than ever and I thought I should report it to Action Fraud but apparently if the fraud hasn't happened, there is nothing to report. So I thought lets see how far I can go.. so I sent her a reply that I will pay deposit on viewing day as I am committed but doesn't make sense to pay upfront just to view.. she sounded desperate:

    Hi *******,

    I am sorry but like i said earlier i can only come down to meet with you for the viewing after we have signed the contract via email and you have paid the holding deposit, because i am not willing to go down that lane anymore due to my tight working schedule.

    It is for your own security we are signing the contract before you make the payment for the holding deposit and i am also willing for us to exchange copy of our passport before you make the holding deposit payment for more security.

    I don't organize general viewing as i will only come down to meet with whomever shows commitment by signing the contract and making the holding deposit payment as stated in the contract. The flat needs to be booked down soon due to my tight working schedule and there are others interested as well, but do want to give you a chance at it first.

    Let me know.

    Kind Regards

    Laura

    Haha. .so this is where I am at but its a lesson to be very careful out there.. thinking of continuing the conversation just to see how its goes.
     
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  2. jimjams Expert Advisor ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    United Kingdom nobody zoned
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    Depending on how the emails are being sent, you should be able to get the IP address from the header, then you'll see where the scammer is sending the emails from.

    In the meantime, send a reply saying that you're prepared to drive up to Birmingham to collect "her", drive "her" down to the flat, then take "her" back. It would be interesting to the excuse "she" invents to get out of that one. Eventually, if the IP addresses are Nigeria, you can give out "her" IP address and offer to pay for "her" flight to Heathrow LOL
     
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  3. legend-ary Moderator Staff Team

    United Kingdom Legend The Big Smoke
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    The IP is from USA so could be a cover up. I have asked her for the copy of contract before I sign it and details of the bank account where to make a deposit :Grin: If she gives the tell-tale WesternUnion BS I will say I don't trust it and need her address so I can drive up and meet her in person. They are using a UK mobile number too btw..
     
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  4. ArcticFire-Account Closed Banned Getting Started

    Scotland Graham Scotland
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    You could say that you can have your solicitor hold the deposit funds in escrow and see what she (or probably he) says?
     
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  5. legend-ary Moderator Staff Team

    United Kingdom Legend The Big Smoke
    3,800
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    I sent her not my real name and not a real address as I don't want to be victim of identity theft and also so she can reveal her hand and ask me to send money through Western Union but she just sent me a 'Tenancy Agreement' to sign !! I mean duh! I am not signing a tenancy agreement without viewing the property or meeting the landlord.. are people really this dumb? Here is her latest reply:


    Hi *******,

    Yes its best you just print it, sign, scan and email it back to me. We can meet for the viewing this Saturday at your preferred time because i am free this Saturday.
    I have attached a copy of the tenancy agreement contract which has been duly signed by me to this email for you to sign it as well and email me back a copy of the signed contract.
    After which i will provide you with details for the payment of the holding deposit as stated in the contract and once the holding deposit payment is confirmed, then we can arrange to meet for the viewing this Saturday.

    Let me know.

    Kind Regards

    Laura
     
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  6. jimjams Expert Advisor ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    United Kingdom nobody zoned
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    1,225
    The IP address might be a proxy server in the US, whereabouts in the US ?

    I would sign the relevant bit and send it back (obviously using a fake signature), just keep it rolling, soon you can ask "her" for a photo, tell "her" you would wait near the property but you don't want to get out of the car until "she" turns up. When you get the photo, you can post it here, then use Google search to see if this scammer found it on the internet (you can remove the picture if Google doesn't find it). If Google does find it, you then reveal the IP they're using and the link to the photo on the internet, and say you've contacted the police in "her" area.
     
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  7. legend-ary Moderator Staff Team

    United Kingdom Legend The Big Smoke
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    Trouble is she is not willing to come down from Birmingham unless I pay £800 deposit! :O I told her I ain't signing no contract but happy to pay deposit into escrow or something similar.
     
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  8. legend-ary Moderator Staff Team

    United Kingdom Legend The Big Smoke
    3,800
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    Hah! she has shown her hand ... (she actually did attach copy of her or same named person's passport)

    Hi ******,

    I do operate a credit facility account which is high on taxes for transfers below 2000pounds.

    My personal assistant is the one in charge of my finances due to my tight working schedule and she is presently outside the country in South Africa shopping for materials for my upcoming fashion show week.

    So you will be making the payment of £400 for the part holding deposit via MoneyGram money transfer (which you can have done online with your debit card via the MoneyGram website) to my personal assistant's details which i will provide you with, then you will email me the copy of the transfer receipt as proof after its done.

    I have attached a copy of my passport to this email.

    Let me know if its ok with you and i will send you her details now for the payment to be made.

    Kind Regards

    Laura
     
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  9. jimjams Expert Advisor ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    United Kingdom nobody zoned
    2,154
    1,225
    Say that you're prepared to drive up to Birmingham to collect "her" and drive "her" down to the flat, and that you will give her the deposit in cash before you set off from Birmingham, and that you will take "her" back to Birmingham afterwards.

    Re the "passport", download it to your PC/laptop and then zoom in to check if the areas are the same at high zoom. If all areas are the same at high zoom then it's a stolen passport ... if they'e not, it's photoshopped ... my money says the latter and the pic is from facebook or the internet
     
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  10. ArcticFire-Account Closed Banned Getting Started

    Scotland Graham Scotland
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    Just call her bluff and say you are happy with the property without viewing and will come to her directly in Birmingham whenever suitable to sign the contract and pay cash.
     
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  11. FirstHonda Premium Member Club Supporter

    I think you should tell her that you are actually expecting a large inheritance soon, and if she could just deposit £5000 in your bank account you'll pay double rent for the property and pay back her £5000...
     
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  12. exec Premium Member Club Supporter

    United Kingdom London
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    1,480
    Gumtree is usually full of scammers.
     
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