Tenants beware! Fake landlord cons couple out of £1,200
A naive couple have been scammed out of £1,200 by a landlord impostor, who copied and pasted photos and details of a property from a Rightmove listing and published it on facebook.
The Foster-Mitchells were keen to move out of their home in Plymouth earlier this year, and discovered a suitable property on a Facebook property page.
The facebook post included pictures of every room, a full description of the property and further details on rent and bills. The couple told the local press:
“The house was listed at £600 per calendar month including bills. It looked perfect.
“We got in touch at the end of August by commenting on the post.
“We didn’t get a reply straight away so we sent a direct message to the landlord on Facebook asking for more details.
“We got a message back giving us more details and letting us know that pets were welcome in the house – which was perfect for us.”
The fake landlord then asked the couple if they wanted to arrange a viewing, explaining that the keys were currently with the letting agent so was unable to let them in to have a look around.
However, the couple were given the address and told to go and have a look at the property.
The couple continued:
“She [the fake landlord] said we could go and have a look at it through the windows to see if it was what we wanted.
“We went and had a look at it and it was exactly the same as the photos.
“We were very keen to find somewhere new and we liked it so we were happy to go ahead with it.”
The couple then agreed to pay one month’s rent and one month’s deposit in advance to secure the two-bedroom property.
“We were sent a tenancy agreement which we completed and sent back. Everything seemed normal,” Jenny added.
However, the couple became suspicious when the fake landlord asked the couple to pay £400 for maintenance that she had carried out at the property.
The couple continued: “We were thinking, we shouldn’t have to pay for maintenance, and this was even written into the tenancy agreement we had signed.
“But then she threatened to add the bills to the monthly rent – so we agreed.
“At this point we were getting wary, but we were so desperate to get out.”
“We had made all of the other payments through online bank transfer, but this time she wanted us to use MoneyGram.
“We did attempt to make the £400 maintenance payment but MoneyGram wouldn’t release it, thank god, until we spoke to them to confirm the details.
“Shortly after this, we decided to search for the property and came across it on Rightmove. That is when it all unravelled.
“We confronted the woman and she said that she didn’t like not being trusted and then blocked us.”
Not only had the couple be conned out of money, but they had also handed in their notice to their existing landlord.
The couple concluded: “Thankfully our current landlord allowed us to retract our notice. They have been brilliant throughout this ordeal and have really helped us.”
The main lesson to be learnt from this story is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
At Tenant Referencing UK we urge all victims of this kind of scam to contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 immediately.
Scam artists will avoid using lettings agencies like TR Online Lettings, who ensure the legitimacy of landlords through a number of fool proof ways. Furthermore, Landlord Accreditation schemes like the NLCE UK can also verify genuine landlords.
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