Wednesday, 26 August 2009

My encounter with a rental scammer

Few weeks ago, I was looking at gumtree advert for a rental property in Leicester for a friend of our, when we came across this very nice modern looking 2 bedroom apartment with good rent. (Below is the picture on the advert).

I mean, who does not want a nice apartment like that? So I decided to give the owner a buzz, and he replied my email.

My name is Jacob Twing and I am from Denmark and the flat is still available for rent. The flat was redecorated last year and the flat is looking very nice and clean. The property has a fully furnished kitchen,clean and well tidy sitting rooms,laundry room,and fully furnished with home utilities like: electric shower, Lounge,Vacuum Cleaner,Toaster, Owen and microwave, dryer, iron, washing machine , refridgerator , dishwasher, powershower, heater, cable ready,tv set and dvd player,internet connection, equiped kitchen and everything a house needs. I m interrested in finding someone clean who can take care of this house more then getting money from renting it if you know what I mean. Till last month the apartment was rented by some students from Germany and now they left and the apartment is available again for rent. The price I want is £420 per month and I am intrested in a long term agreement!
If you have the money I could come in the next few days to show you the apartment and maybe sign the rental agreementif you like it but first I have to be sure you are honest you really do need a place to live because two weeks ago a person from Leicester told me he is really interested and he asked me to go to Leicester to meet him and sign the rental agreement and when I arrived there no person showed up to rent my place and I lost time and money for nothing.
I will wait for your e-mail,

Jacob Twing

At first I am not very suspicious about it, I continue on negotiating with him, asking necessary information. To my surprise, he even send me a copy of legal rental agreement and several more pictures of the rental apartment. He even mention the address of the property! What got me thinking is he showing no concern whatsoever that my friend wasn't actually in the country therefore someone else would have to sign the contract.

I will attach some pictures of the flat,floor plan and also a model of the rental
contract! The flat is located on 7 New Walk, City Centre, Leicester,
Leicestershire LE1 6TE but I can`t give you the exactly address because there`s
no one living out there and I`m afraid of thief's! Please accept my apologies
for this but I hope you understand me because I`m in Denmark right now!

Jacob Twing

But then, it's start to get really fishy when he mentioned about MoneyGram. Which is a very unusual way of paying rental deposit in UK.

He tried to establish the ground why he need the me to see the MoneyGram receipt. I just need to pretend sending money to my husband (or myself)and basically he is saying all I need to do is to show him the receipt of the transaction.

Hello again,
The rental agreement is a standard one and we will sign it when we will meet in person! We can sign the reement starting from September, but you see these is due to previous predicament that I have gone through in the past trying to rent the property to some students,I have got to realize so many people are not really in need of an apartment all they do is secure a place in advance, My last experience in trying to rent the property to a particular lady had got me to predicate on these,she made me believe she was willing and ready to get the apartment she even went to the extend of showing me her statement of account,which made me took her for the viewing but after taking her for the viewing,she saw the apartment and got to love it and never wanted to loose it,so she kept pleading i retain it for her because she is not financially composed at the moment,which i did but end up disastrously.
So basically for me to be sure of you been willing and ready to get the apartment I will employ you walk into any Money Gram outlet and send the total bill cash £1260 (two months rent and one month refundable deposit) to your partener`s name(NOT to ME),or your partener should send it to you with location of Leicester,All I need is for you to get back to me with the receipt issued to you after making the transaction so I can confirm it! When we will meet in person to sign the papers we will go together to Money Gram and you or your partner will withdraw the cash and pay me in hand or you can pay me on Monday by bank transfer! I just need to see that you do have the money available and you do have serious intentions in renting the flat! If the Money Gram agent will ask you about the receiver you should tell him that is your cousin because the transfer fees will be cheaper! Anyway I will pay for it either you take the flat or not! I will book the flight for Saturday as soon as I have your positive answer because I can come only in weekends!

I do apologise for that but as I told you last time when I arrived to Leicester to show the flat to a person everything was a stupid joke and I hope you understand me because I don`t want to waste my time and money on plane tickets..

Jacob Twing

So, I ask more information about him. I mean, at least I should know his phone number or Denmark address are real. But instead he answer me with this.

Hello again Jessica,

Please note that I didn`t asked for any kind of advance payment! I can come to Leicester only in weekends and the banks are closed then! That`s why I suggested to withdraw the money cash from your bank account and send it to a person from your family or a closed friend of you using Money Gram money transfer service-you just have to have your ID and cash with you! The Money Gram money transfer service will take only 5 minutes to make the transaction and they are opened in weekends too when I arrive to Leicester! If you will be asked if you know the receiver, you should tell the Money Gram agent that is a cousin of you because the transfer fees will be cheaper! As we agreed I am going to support the transfer fees either you take the flat or not! The money is still within your reach and nobody has access to it except you. I am asking you this to be sure that I do not come in UK for nothing. Your partner doesen`t have to cash out the money after you sent it before I check it out, you will do it after we sign the rental contract and pay me in hand when I will be in Leicester! After you send the money you will get a receipt from the Money Gram agent which you have to send it to me so I can be sure that you have serious intentions in renting the flat and also to be sure that you do have the money available on your name! In the moment I will get the receipt I am going to buy the flight ticket and I will come to Leicester to sign the rental contract and give you the keys! Hope you can understand my situation! I only need to see the Money Gram money transfer copy of receipt given to you. This is what I will require to confirm available funds for your rent and to serve as surety that you are serious tenant. You can send as attachment the receipt by email. For the next payment we will use my bank account and it won`t be necessary to pay me cash! I do apologies for all but two weeks ago I made a mistake and I need to be sure that I am dealing with serious people who really need a home and have serious intentions in renting! Kind regards,Jacob Twing

P.S : As I told you,I have a lot of tenants interested to rent the flat. I will reserve the flat to the first one that provides me the scanned paper from Money Gram

The bottom line is, he refuse to give any number/address etc. Why? because the real person is probably somewhere in Nigeria! Thank you for my smart husband to find this out.

The loop hole that many people do not know is that MoneyGram receipt can be use to take out the money itself (with some fake identity of course). In addition to that, showing your receipt to someone else is violating MoneyGram regulation.

Then I learned from a few forums that this kind of rental scam is common and many people have lost their money. Unfortunately it's very hard for the UK or European police to act against this kind of fraud. So the only thing they can do is trying to educate and inform more people about this.

So what did I do to Mr. Jacob Twing?

I sent him a FAKE moneyGram receipt (you can download it from this website, then fill it up yourself). And I shall laugh at him if he ever try to take the money out of it!


Merryn said...

Oh gosh, I have no idea watsover about this. But to me, I'll never rent a place without first taking a look in real.. pictures are deceiving.. :)

coffeesncookies said...

Hi.. thanks for dropping by my blog and now I'm enjoying reading yours too :)
I would hv suspected a scam by 1) the photos looks like extracted from some designer home catalogs. Real houses don't look like this :) 2) the name "Twing" sounds very Nigerian ..
I've received many emails too from Nigerian money scams..
Lucky you and hubs are smart and you play along. Let us know if he replies your mail :)
Have a nice day !

Naresh said...

Hi Jessica,

I was recently trying to find a place in Boston (while still in New York City). Among the people I communicated with (with ads from, 2-3 people appeared fishy (similar to your interactions). In all these cases, the person claimed to be either in South Africa, in UK or in Florida (not in Boston)..sent me pictures and invited me to walk past the apartment.

My smart wife quickly told me that it is a scam.

Thanks for sharing this. Hopefully, a few people will be alarted to this nuisance.

Regards to Yusdi. Lots of love to your precious one.

Take care,

Ayie said...

That's a smart move but risky too! I hope you didn't give out much details about you with your email exchange with him. Good thing you and your husband realized things before it gets all messed up. Nice to know everything went fine afterall.

Ayie said...

so your name is jessica!!!

Ayie said...

hahaha i got carried away, i forgot that i've been seeing jessice in our photo stamps! i just got used calling you JH =)

betchai said...

i am glad you were able to smell something fishy, and great of you to share your experience here so that more people will get to know it more.

there are just so many scams these days, of different kinds.

Anonymous said...

Goodness! The extent people go to!

Keep us updated on new developments.

Stardust said...

Now this is truly a scary experience, I would never want to be involved with anything like that! Thank God that you did not fall for it.

J.H said...

@Merryn : yes, absolutely! The problem is many people never know that showing MoneyGram receipt can deem you to lost some money.

@Coffeencookies : If he dare to reply my mail I am going to laugh at him.

@Naresh : what a surprise to see you here :-) How are you doing?
Gosh, we both are lucky to have our spouse with us otherwise we would already been conned!

J.H said...

@Ayie : hahaha... well, jessica is a very common name here (Yes, you call "Jessica" and the whole alley going to turn their head).

@Betchai & Stardust : just when I thought internet is a save place.

@Kamana : I will, if he ever dare contacting me back :P

Liss said...

Oh Jessica your ending was funny. It great you gave him a taste of his own medicine.

Ayie said...

hehe good thing my name isn't too common =)

LuxeLass said...

Wao! This is an important piece of information to be shared among friends!

J.H said...

Luxe : yes... spread the words around!