Tuesday 9 June 2009 11.22am
If you are thinking of renting anywhere off Gumtree and similar sites, beware! This scam seems to be aimed primarily but not exclusively, at female foreign students and young foreign professionals. On showing interest in a property you have seen online you will be asked to transfer a substantial sum of money (usually between £200- £500)to yourself or a friend via Western Union or a similar money transfer service.
You are then told that you then have to provide the receipt showing that you have done this as proof that you have access to the necessary funds for the rental. You are then told that you or your friend can then retrieve the cash from WU or Moneygram or whoever. When you go to do so, The money has already gone from your account - someone else has collected it! Almost invariably, the individuals caught out by this have not even seen the property beore sending off their cash - DON'T EVEN THINK OF IT!
Always go to view the property and meet the renter face to face (Preferably take a friend with you for safety or at least leave details of where you are going with someone)Only when you have negotiated a rental contract in black and white, should you part with cash. The people involved in this sort of stuff are money launderers and into heaven knows what else so do not let yourself become a victim - happy flat hunting.