This case occurred years before I started this website. I was being fooled and even after the Western Unions payments were involved, it seemed legit as you will see. By good fortune, I am familiar with Western Union payments and I saw the danger just in time.
The background is that I was asked to look for a flat for someone coming from overseas, within the EU. Going through an agency was difficult, as the person was failing “suitability” checks so we tried a few private adverts on a local classified ad website.
We filled in the enquiry form, and later received the first contact Email.
Thanks for the interest you have in my flat. My flat is presently available for rent and you can stay in my flat as long as you pay your rent at when due. My flat is located at New Road,Brighton,BN1 ***. Here are the necessary details you need to know about the rent and deposit.
Rent £600 pcm : £150.00 pw Security Deposit: £ 500.00 (Returnable at the end of your stay in my flat) with 100% Guarantee, Utility bills inclusive ( water, gas, council tax, TV license and wireless Internet) Utility Cost : £ 0.00 pcm.
However, At this stage that you want to rent my flat, i need to know some few question about you.How long do you intend to stay in my flat? Can you keep my flat clean and tidy? Do you have references in Brighton?. Kindly reply for further information and i will like to know where you are coming from to stay in my flat. Make sure you reply with all answers to the questions i asked you.
I look forward to reading from you.Thank you and God bless you.
The grammar was a bit strange and the questions were a bit quirky but I replied nevertheless. I explained that this was an overseas friend looking for a place and that they were a first time renter, but had finances to pay the rental.
Hello *****,Thanks for the reply and the sincere interest you have in my flat. My flat is fully furnished in and out as you can see in the pictures and there is a garage and a off street parking in my flat, I managed to speak with my lawyer concerning the interest you have in my flat and we both agreed to have your colleague in my flat.However,it is unfortunate that my past bitter experience of inviting people to come and view my flat without any form of confirmation of their financial ability and not keeping up to time as at when scheduled, has brought about great loss to me. I have traveled all the way from Ireland to take some interested candidates round my flat because that’s where i work.Some outside tenants do not have the money to pay the rent and yet they disturb the landlord to arrange a viewing with their friend or relative who are in Brighton,also some do not meet up with the appointments which has led to the dismissal of some landlords in office by there employees.
Henceforth my lawyer and i have decided to carry out a simple test on your friend’s financial ability to pay so as to ensure that he his capable of paying rent before coming for viewing or before making a reservation for any interested candidate.I would not ask him to send his bank statement neither his pay slip because it will be inappropriate for me to collect any money from him neither my lawyer before viewing. At least 1 month rent of £600 and security deposit of £500 which is refundable after your stay in my flat, would be required from him to transfer through any Western union outlet close to you.He can make the transfer with his name as a sender’s name and your own name or his partner’s name as a receiver to any address in the UK,Once he has done this, scan the receipt to me and if you do not have scanner, you may write out the details on the receipt as i will send it to my lawyer to verify if it’s truly genuine and available in the receiver’s custody, after verification, then we can proceed for the viewing while he moves in at his own convenience.
NOTE:I don’t want you to get me wrong concerning the transfer,please note that i just want to help you by securing this flat for you because i already had a few client that made references towards my flat,the transfer procedure is just a way of confirming your friend’s financial ability to secure my flat and also i will be responsible for the cost of the transfer when we meet for your move in and viewing.
I look forward to reading from you soon.
Seeing Western Union immediately rang alarm bells. Unfortunately, I was trapped in a situation. I had found a potential flat and starting to arrange for the friend to fly over. It was awkward to suddenly pull out just because they mentioned Western Union.
The instructions were that I was to transfer the money to my friend. I knew that you can check a payment online if you had the reference and some other details. I convinced myself this was genuine, I could see that this would prove I had £1100 cash in hand, albeit a strange way to go about it.
I replied, indicating that I still want to proceed with the viewing.
Thank you for your reply,i have just spoken to my lawyer and we have both agreed to secure my flat for you.The western union transfer is the acceptable means of transfer that my lawyer requested for,however you will proceed with security deposit transfer of £ 500 with a 1 month rent of £600 making a total transfer of £ 1,100,with your friends' name as the senders name and your own name or his wife's as the receiver name to any address here in the UK.
Once you have gotten the transfer done in any western union outlet close to you,you get back to me with the scan copy of the transfer receipt and so i can forward it to my lawyer for confirmation,and you will as well write out the details of the transfer out and send it to me as follow:
5:cost of transfer:
After the transfer has been confirmed valid i will give you a call and send you an email so i can inform you of the confirmation while we proceed with the viewing asap.You must also understand that the transfer must be confirmed valid before the receiver picks up the money as the essence of the transfer is to confirm its validity and once it as been confirmed valid,we will proceed with the viewing while he fills up and sign the tenancy agreement contract then he can move in at his own convenience.
Also don't forget that i will be responsible for the cost of transfer when we meet for the viewing.Kindly reply and let me know exactly when you're going to get the transfer done so i can inform my lawyer about your viewing date.
You must also understand that the transfer must be confirmed valid before the receiver picks up the money
This was the eye-opener. After paying money to Western Union, anyone with the 10 digit code could get the money from any Western Union outlet. In theory, they would need ID when they claim it, but it would appear they have a way around that. The result would be when I eventually tried to get the cash, I would be told it has already been collected.
On this occasion, I stopped communicating with the scammer, I got the website to remove the scan advert, and I popped into the police station for some advice. No crime had been committed, but I felt I should tell someone. They advised me to report it via the ActionFraud website. I did but heard no more, and I have seen evidence that the scammer is still active.