Fleeced to meet you: scammed on arrival
There are not many things that can rival the feeling of arriving in a new city, ready to start a new job and a new life. Unless, of course, you find out you have been scammed out of hundreds of euros hours after arriving.
Having been offered an internship abroad, I had been searching for a flat on the internet. Anyone who has been through this process knows just how frustrating it is, so when you finally make a breakthrough it can be easy to miss the red flags.
After days of searching, I finally received an email telling me there was a room available, and all I had to do was sign a contract and transfer the first month’s rent as deposit. Brilliant! My reservation was confirmed, and we would talk again a few days before my arrival.
Or not. I never heard from him again, nor did I see my money.
What to look out for
With the many reasons to look forward to moving abroad, then, come some dangers to prepare yourself against. After my experience, I would strongly recommend that you arrive in your new city or town with enough time to find a flat in person.
If the internet is your only option, there are some things to keep in mind in order to avoid costly and upsetting experiences such as my own. If you notice any of the following signs think twice before transferring any money:
- Does the email look original? Is there enough information about the publisher, such as a photo, phone number, etc.?
- Ask if it is possible to visit the room – if they say no, then something is fishy.
- If there are lots of rooms available in the same flat from the same date, it is probably too good to be true – unless you are on a dedicated accommodation platform.
- When you are sent the contract make sure that all the required information is included. In particular, check to see that the contact’s ID number is included, and ask to verify this against a copy of his ID.
- Make sure that the personal data on the contract is the same as for the bank account you will transfer the deposit to.
- Adverts with lots of photos clearly showing your room are better. Try a reverse image search to check that the photos are original.
- Contact through phone can be more reliable than only through emails.
Follow these rules and your welcome to your new home should be a lot more pleasant than mine was!
Image: William Ross