Renters beware…

Early last month, I received a text message regarding the room I was trying to rent out.

+61 428 465 117

Sent from: Melinda Water

Hi, I am so much interested in your available room, kindly email me the details to melinda303waters;gmail.com, I prefer to be emailed cos of my work. Cheers

And so I quickly emailed her in return with some details about the room and the rental amount. I also asked her to tell me a bit about herself and inquired when she would be interested to inspect the room.

This was her reply:

Thanks for your reply, I will be very happy to be one of the housemate, I will be paying for the first 3 month rent and bond.. Kindly let me know the total sum for the first three month/bond and I will need house address for my mover company to calculate the shipping cost for me.. Awaiting your reply asap.
Cheers

Melinda

I tried calling her as I thought it might be easier to communicate but it went straight to voicemail stating that the phone is off. Since she requested for the sum of the first 3 months, I kindly calculated it for her and provided her with the address. I also politely asked her again about herself and when she would be free to inspect the room.

The next day, I received an email reply from her:
Hello ,
Many thanks for getting back to me again.  I am very social person that respect humanity and this make it so easy for me to get along with whoever that comes my way in life. I am 29 year old non smoker lady coming to Australia from Poland. I am outgoing and friendly i takes pride of my home, am  clean/tidy and trustworthy person. I work with M&C Maritime consultants service in Poland,am at sea at the moment and i have limited time to surf the internet and also phone calls is also strictly limited due to nature of my work. I am arriving on 13th of October and stay more than a year in Australia so i will be paying for the first 3 month rent. I will be transferring the rent to you through paypal and if you do not have one, kindly set up an account with them in less than 5 minutes on www.paypal.com, I will be so happy to secure the room as soon as you get back to me with the paypal money request. I will like to pay in advance through PayPal and my reason is that, i will be presenting the proof of my rent payment to my employer and also to the immigration at the port of entry to Australia. I will be signing all the lease and document on my arrival day and have also attach my photo to this email so that you can know who is renting your room..Awaiting your reply

Cheers
Melinda

Reading her email, it seems and sounded like she is interested in the room and wouldn’t mind paying 3 months rent in advance which would be great for me. I was however doubtful about her not wanting to view the room before she commit to it. But that was understandable as she was not in the country at that time. After all, it is not uncommon as many students who come abroad to study also prefer to get a place to live before arriving.

But deep in my gut, I had some fear/doubts because of her photos provided.

pic1 pics2

I wasn’t sure why but my gut feeling was telling me, ‘something is wrong with the photos’. It looks too normal? I had this questions running in my head ‘how can you tell if the photos are hers or if it was taken off the internet?’

So I had a chat with my parents. They felt she was genuine in wanting a place to live but we did worry about immigration side. Anyway, I decided to google up the company name and fair enough, it came up. So I thought, ‘oh well, sounds reputable’ if it comes up on Google. I also saw some other person from the same company trying to get hired as a nanny so I thought maybe it is common for people in that company to travel to Australia for work.

I was going to put my mind at ease — until I decided to google further and found the following forum/complaint board:

Apparently there are a couple of people by the name of Janet Lindel/Kyla Nelson/Deborah Morris trying to scam property renters. As I read comments from others, I found they even used the same name multiple times. Someone else also received email from Melinda

So basically the scam goes like this; the tenant will agree to pay the rent upfront but request a favour from you to transfer $ to their shipping company via Western Union. They say that they will transfer the rent + shipping cost to your account but after you transfer the shipping cost, you will realised you never received any money in your account.

If I was to agree to having her move in, I would have received the following email (this was from someone else who gotten the same scam):

Hi,
I received the paypal request but i need a kind favor from you and i will be happy if you can sort it out for me. I was just about to pay when i received an email from my shipping company, my shipping agent says i will need to pay for the moving before they can ship my items, they charge me $850.00 for pick up and delivery and payment must be made to the corporate international headquarters in Italy. The payment will be made via western union transfer. I will add $850.00 to my rent deposit making $5, 420.00 AUD in total which you will kindly help me to send the excess $850 to their corporate headquarters in Italy, i will send the funds through PayPal and email you to let you know when i am done with the transfer. This can be done by visiting any post office cos there is always western union agent there or (you can do it online as well at (www.westernunion.com), i will also include $90.00 for the western union money transfer charges.. I would have done it myself but i can’t for some circumstances regarding my work schedule, i will appreciate your kindness regarding this. You will get a payment notification from PayPal immediately i transfer the funds.

I will appreciate your help… Awaiting your reply asap..

Thanks and God Bless You.

Cheers
Melinda

In some ways, I knew that if I ever received this reply from her, I would never have agree to it or even if I did, I wouldn’t have transferred any money out of my account until I have cash in my account from her. You can call it scrutiny or skepticism on my part—I guess I was raised not to trust strangers easily.

But then imagine those poor fellows out there with a big heart, thinking ‘oh let me help this lady out and pay her shipping cost first’ or if ‘Melinda’  insisted that she has put through the payment but it hasn’t arrived into your account and the shipping company is pressuring her to pay up first- some people might have been scammed! Of course, with my sceptical mind, I would have questioned the fact that if she could have done a transfer to me on the ship/vessel, she could have easily done the transfer for the shipping company too!

After finding out those information online, I stopped replying her emails as I did not want to waste any more of my time. Despite the fact that I might not have been so easily fooled by her, she has wasted my time and effort to communicate with her as a renter as I was hopeful to get someone decent to rent my room.

Lesson learnt: I am glad I trusted my instinct.

I hope this post would be useful to others  so that they too would be aware of the scammers out there.

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