Avoid a bogus flattie
A word of advice about flatmate scams.
14 February 2011
Whether you are looking for a flatmate or a flat, watch out for suspicious behaviour. You might be being lured into a scam.
Flatmate-finding websites are a popular way of advertising a spare room. But beware. There’s always a chance that when you place an advert for a flatmate you’ll get a scammer responding to your ad.
If you are looking for someone to move into your flat get suspicious if the ‘new flatmate’ sends you a deposit before even showing up to look at the place. They’ll probably give you some excuse like they are from out of town and can’t get to see the flat but they are really interested.
They will then send an overpayment for the first month’s rent and bond in the form of a cheque. You then get an email apologising and asking you to pay them the extra money back by money transfer.
After you’ve refunded the money, you’ll find the original cheque has bounced and you are out of pocket and are back looking for a flatmate.
If you are looking for a flat get suspicious if the ‘flatmate’ wants a deposit before you have even seen the place. They will disappear with your deposit and you will have nowhere to live.
Even though they may show you detailed pictures of the house, it doesn’t mean they really own or live in that house. Often scammers copy details and pictures from a real advertisement to make their scam look genuine.
Scammers often work from outside the country so there isn’t much you can do if you get scammed and have sent money overseas. So if the deal looks suspicious, avoid it and report it to the flatmate website you are using.