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Students fall victim to housing deposit scam

By River Reporter Apr 25, 2013

Students have become victim to an online rent scam after they handed over £700 to a fake landlord.

Cerys Traylor

Three female students have become victim to an online rent scam in which they lost £700 in a fraudulent transaction.

The second year journalism and chemistry students, who did not want to be named, found a property on the property website Zoopla, and got in contact with a man who they believed to be the landlord.

Nonexistent reference

They were informed by the ‘landlord’ that he was leaving the country soon, and therefore would require the deposit to ensure delivery of keys once the property was available.

However, the three students soon found that the ‘landlord’ was no longer responding to their emails, and they began to suspect problems.

When they rang the delivery company the ‘landlord’ stated the keys would be delivered by, they were informed that the reference number they had been given was nonexistent.

“A lot of money to lose”

One of the students said: “We called the estate agents listed who said they had never heard of this man. They told us they would investigate further and get back to us.”

“We have gone to the Police and filed a complaint but were told it may take months for anything to happen.”

When asked about how they would cope financially, she said: “Now we are broke and don’t have a house. It was a lot of money to lose. The uni has been really helpful with finding us new accommodation, but we still don’t have anywhere yet. Luckily, we have private insurance that will cover it eventually.”

Kingston University advises students to get a receipt when handing over money

Kingston Accommodation Services have advised that students should “avoid paying cash” and that “bankers draft, cheques or bank transfers are safer methods of paying”.

A spokesman said: “Remember that whenever you hand over money, you need to get a receipt. Make sure it states clearly the amount you pay, the date, your name, the name of the person you are paying the money to, and a description of what you are paying for.”

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