This is going to be a quick but hopefully useful blog. Days have been sunny and warm in Belgrade, so most of my time I spend trying to get some tan. But there was an alarming situation on CIRC’s forum that I want to discuss.
To keep it short, one of Chalmers’ new students already made a blog about accommodation scams http://www.swedenintouch.se/Freddy-Rietdijk/Blog/ and it is very useful.
I want to go further and give more details. Since this is not the first time something like this happens to new students (and sometimes to old ones as well) and police often cannot interfere since the crime was committed from a place outside Sweden, maybe we could just give all the data about these people online…
Latest scam was made by someone called Ramona Kanuit apparently from Scotland. She is in a hurry and would like you to pay 2 months in advance through Western Union and she will give you the keys (or send them through a friend since she is not in country). Address and pictures of the flat are real, but that is where this all ends. Do not trust emails like these!
Common look of a scam email never change and usually it says something like:
“Thanks for your response, another student from XX will be occupying a room, each apartment has it own door lock for safety purpose. My Name is XX from XX. The apartment belongs to my late father and my XX has been managing and maintaining the apartment, but she is presently in XX due to her work and I also work. The apartment is very close to city center, public transportation and supermarket.
However If you really have interest in renting the room just let me have this request below:
-YOUR EXACT ARRIVAL DATE,
-YOUR DEPARTURE DATE,
-YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS
-SCANNED COPY OF YOUR INTERNATIONAL PASSPORT ID,
I will instruct our family lawyer to prepare the tenant agreement form for you to be assure that you are dealing with the right person and to see the terms and condition of the contract. Then if you are contented with the agreement you can proceed with the one month rent and security deposit to my XX in XX via Western Union money transfer so that the room can be reserve for you till your arrival date, there are a lot of people who has interest in renting but my XX prefer the most serious person who pay her first.”
All the XXs are different places where these people say they are. From United Kingdom to Australia, it doesn’t really matter.
It does sound very inviting, but please DO NOT SEND ANYTHING OF YOURS through internet… Money cannot be traced through Western Union once sent. And your data is not confidential without reason.
Also, I wanted to rent a place (genuine place from a genuine person) couple of months ago. It’s not this complicated and contractor usually stays in the flat with you, since it’s not allowed to rent apartments from second hand contracts. And mostly, people who rent live in first hand contract flats, since it’s not only hard for students to find a place.
To conclude, yes, staying in a hostel can be expensive. But imagine that you paid around 700 euros to someone, only to realize you got scammed. Then paying for couple of nights at some place seems like a better and cheaper way.
Be very careful and good luck!