I found a bargain flat to rent on Craigslist but the landlord wanted me to transfer �900 via Western Union before I viewed it
I have spotted a new type of scam when trying to secure rental property via Gumtree and Craigslist.
Bogus "landlords" are demanding that potential tenants prove they have sufficient funds by arranging a money transfer via Western Union or MoneyGram, to a friend or relative, then supplying the receipt to the landlord. I haven't heard of anything like this before. SC, north London
You inquired about a one-bedroom property in Marylebone, central London, listed on Craigslist for the bargain rental of �400 a month ? which is very cheap for a property in that area.
The email reply you received was almost unreadable ? the first sign that this is a scam ? and asked you to transfer the security deposit and the rent fee (totalling �900) to a friend or relative in order to prove you have funds. This had to be done before you even arranged a viewing so the landlord did not have to "come in vain or come twice on basis of the rent".
All the landlord required was the "reciept" (sic) as proof that the funds were "remitted with Western Union in your name". Then the email casually stated that the landlord would follow you to the Western Union outlet close to the flat to receive his "rent fee", which would be deducted from your rent and refunded to you when you arrive to view the flat.
You were right to question this ludicrous demand, as it is clearly a scam. To be fair, Craigslist is clear about this, stating: "Never wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service ? anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer."
Even so, Citizens Advice recently felt the need to highlight the scam in a study entitled Desperate times, desperate consumers, warning that competition for affordable private rented accommodation is currently fierce, and people who are desperate to find a home can be vulnerable to renting scams. Avoid anything like this like the plague.
We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at email@example.com or write to Brignall & King, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number