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Too Good To Be True

By Dan Hutton on November 17, 2010 in

A word of warning to potential renters – watch out for rental scams! Though it feels a little like we’re all getting scammed a little bit given the high rental prices around the east at the moment, greedy landlords may be the least of your worries.

After moving in to a new place in Bondi recently I thought I’d take one last look on domain.com.au just to make sure I hadn’t missed out on a good deal, and given that a friend was still hunting for something similar, I knew that if something came up I could let him know.

Incredibly, an ad had appeared that day displaying the almost perfect property on Sir Thomas Mitchell Road for a price that in all honesty seemed too good to be true. Regardless, I shot through an email just to suss it out.

The next day an email arrived in my inbox from the apparent owner of the property (with a number of grammatical errors that all but confirmed my suspicions). She claimed to have moved back to London for work and though she wanted to sell her Bondi property, she couldn’t get the price she wanted. She claimed to have set the rental price low in order to attract a long-term tenant.

She then went on to say that the keys to the property were in the UK with her but that she could send them out, but of course there was a catch.

For her to send the keys she asked that I first send one month’s rent to a friend of my own (not hers) using a Western Union Money Transfer and send a scan of the receipt to her. Upon seeing the receipt the keys would be sent out.

Now I don’t know exactly how this scam works as such but essentially the money disappears and the keys never come.

Thankfully in this case it never went that far but given the current rental climate around the east (it’s near impossible to get a half decent two-bedder for under $600 per week) I imagine there are a lot of people out there who might get desperate and take the chance. My advice: don’t.

There is of course a funny side to this story also and it comes in the form of a reply that the mate of mine mentioned above (the one who was still house hunting) sent to the scammer. This is, of course, a piss-take of the typical Nigerian-style scam email complete with typos and misinterpretations. Enjoy:

Hi Kyrra

Thanks very much for the email. Yes we are still very keen to continue with the peoples rental. Unfortunate Australia is a little behind the times and we don’t have any Western Unions as yet so I cant send any cash to my friends/fathers/mothers/peoples so you can see we have the AUD2,000. I wish we did have a Western Union as I have meny friends in Nigeria that I’d like to send some cash too… heaps of it actually. Due to this I have attached a scan that you requested of me leaving my house with the cash that I will send to you. Please see this scan and send us the keys to your apartment. Then I will post the cash to youse for our 1 years rentaling.

Thanking you,

Nathan

The moral of the story: If it seems too good to be true it probably is, so beware.