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 email@example.com Or firstname.lastname@example.org [ 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.