3 tips to prevent scams and keeping you safe online

Rental scams are increasingly common. We put a lot of effort in keeping FlatmateRooms safe. This includes address verification on payment, hand checking adverts as they go live. We have a monitored internal email system meaning we never reveal your email address. This helps to thwart spam and prevent scams.

Members win a week of premium membership for each scam report or raised suspicion, If it turns out to be a scam and we haven't already banned them. It’s worth £10 of membership, so if you see anything suspicious, please let us know.

Below we have put together a list of known scams for you to be aware of:

1. Western Union scams

If a stranger asks you to use Western Union in their email, it is a scam. We are not aware of any case where landlord or tenant asked for a Western Union payment and this wasn’t a scam.

Western Union and MoneyGram transactions are intended only for transactions between yourself and people you know and trust. The transaction details should never be disclosed to a third party.

Please report this immediately using the form at the bottom of this page along with the email address or URL of the ad.

2. Fake cheque or bankers draft

Scammer sends you a fake cheque for too much money for the deposit on your room and asks you to refund the difference via bank transfer.

This is normally where a scammer will send you an e-mail and ask you questions about your room, they will then reveal their interest, but come up with a reason why they cannot see the room (usually because they are abroad at the moment), they will then ask you for your details and send you a fake cheque or asks you to draw money from a stolen card if you are a B&B or hotel.

When you get the cheque you will notice it will be for more than the amount you asked for, the scammer will normally contact you soon after you received the cheque to say they have made a mistake with the amount, and needs the overpaid money back ASAP and will ask you to send the overpaid money back by Cash, Cheque, Bankers Draft or Western Union.

Never do this, when receiving any money always wait for it to clear. This full process can take up to 3 weeks and always check with the bank if in doubt. Read about another version of this scam.

3. Fake ads

Scammers like to place really attractive room rental ads in great areas with really nice looking pictures at great monthly prices. When calling or e-mailing these adverts, they will get you really interested and say there is massive demand for the property, but there not available to do viewing this week then offer you to secure it for £100 by cheque, bank transfer or Western Union. They will send you the date you can move in. When you then come to move in you’ll find the pictures are fake, the property may not even exist and if it does the Thompson family are wondering what you’re doing at their property. Rule of thumb: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Typical scam emails


Hi,

Thanks for the reply and the sincere interest you have in my flat. I have decided to rent out my flat to you as long as you’ll take good care of my flat as how it is. However, it is unfortunate that my past bitter experience of inviting people to come and view or reserve my flat without any form of confirmation of their financial ability and not keeping up to time as at when scheduled, has brought about great loss to me. I have travelled all the way from Ireland to take some interested candidates round my flat because that’s where I work with M. Gould (Scunthorpe) Ltd.

Some outside tenants do not have the money to pay the rent and yet they disturb the landlord to arrange a viewing with their friend or relative who are in Reading, also some do not meet up with the appointments which has led to the dismissal of some landlords in office by their employers.

Henceforth, my lawyer and I have decided to carry out a simple test on financial ability to pay for my rent before coming for viewing. I would not ask you to send your bank statement. At least 1 month rent and security deposit which is £ 400 which is refundable after your 1 month stay in my flat would be required from you to transfer through Western union money transfer agent. You can make the transfer with your name as a sender name and your partner or friend in UK premises as a receiver.

Once you have done this, scan the receipt to me and if you do not have scanner, you may write out the details on the receipt as I will send it to my lawyer to verify if it’s truly genuine and available in your friend’s custody, after verification, then we can proceed for the viewing and you can as well tell your friend or partner to pick up the money and also, I will refund back to you the cost of transfer when we meet.

I look forward to reading from you soon.

Regards
Mr/Mrs Colin


Hi Emma,

You will be sharing with a professional female from Ireland. She’s 24 y/o and work in Finance.

Regarding the viewing, there’s no problem in inviting you for the viewing, I currently work and live in Manchester so I will need to take a day off from work in order to come down to arrange the viewing with you.It is unfortunate that my past bitter experience of inviting people to come and view my flat without any form of confirmation of their financial ability and not keeping up to time as at when scheduled, has brought about great loss to me, is either they cannot afford the rent or the security deposit required but want me to come down with the aim of renegotiating.

I have consulted my lawyer and we have resolved that any potential tenants should be able to prove in the following way in order to determine who is financially buoyant and that he or she can stick to appointment when scheduled and able to pay his/her rent as at when due. In this case, a bank-statement or guarantee from your organization wont be accepted as we have had wayward tenants tendering fake documents.

PROCEDURE:

1) Transfer the amount £950 (1 month rent and security deposit) to any of your family members or your friend via Western Union at the nearest Western Union outlet/shop close to you. You can ask any of them to make the transfer to you either.

Your Name (as Sender) to any of your family members or your friend (as Receiver) in London or any of them make you the receiver.

2) Scan & Send a copy of the Western Union transaction receipt as a proof of the transaction or mail me the transaction details. (The money is safe as it is only you that can withdraw since you need a ID card or International passport)

3) Then, we will meet for viewing.

4) If you decide to take the flat, we will go to any local Western Union outlet close to the flat for you to pick up the money and pay me. (You don’t need to come with cash to view, after viewing we will go together, you will cancel the transfer and withdraw the money to pay me).

5) Keys will be handed over to you after signing the contracts.

I do not want you to have the feeling that I am asking for money BEFORE you see what you are renting because I know that payment is meant to be done AFTER you have seen the Flat and okay with it that is why I said you should make the transfer to yourself so that you will be the one to receive the money and pay me in person after the viewing.

If you are ready ,you can go ahead and make the transfer and let me know immediately you do the transfer so that I can know how to squeeze out time to come and meet you.You will need to scan the copy of the transfer receipt and email it to me to confirm it online in order to know you have made the transfer and to let you know that I will return back to you the full transfer charges whether you decide to rent the flat or not when we meet.

Let me know if you are ok with this arrangement so that we can proceed.

Kind regards,
Alice.

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