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  • FIRST POST
    • LeytonJonPaget
    • By LeytonJonPaget 12th Oct 18, 1:33 PM
    • 2Posts
    • 4Thanks
    LeytonJonPaget
    Is this a scam?
    • #1
    • 12th Oct 18, 1:33 PM
    Is this a scam? 12th Oct 18 at 1:33 PM
    My sister recently applied to rent a flat, and a lot of things don't really seem to add up:

    • The person letting the property said that this is because she is going to America for a year and is looking for someone to look after her stuff while she is away.
    • The only paperwork she has received about the property so far is a generic looking "application form", asking questions like whether or not she smokes or has any pets, to gauge her eligibility for the property, which was accepted straight away.
    • They have now asked for a payment of £500 to be made to their attourney/lawyer in the USA via Western Union to obtain a reference number (MTCN), which "will be used in the shipping process after finishing the documentation", after which the keys and flat documents will be sent to her via 24 hour courier. In earlier e-mails, they have said that this £500 consists of a £250 security deposit and £250 part payment of rent, and that this will be protected under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

    The fact that they are asking her to pay upfront via Western Union without having signed any paperwork makes me question the authenticity of this. However, I only have experience renting a flat through a letting agency, and so I am unable to say for certain whether or not this is normal.

    Any advice? I will provide any other details I can, but I didn't want to copy-paste the e-mail correspondence here because I'm not 100% sure if that's against the forum's policy or not.
Page 1
    • Wanderingpomm
    • By Wanderingpomm 12th Oct 18, 1:35 PM
    • 108 Posts
    • 113 Thanks
    Wanderingpomm
    • #2
    • 12th Oct 18, 1:35 PM
    • #2
    • 12th Oct 18, 1:35 PM
    Yes itís a scam
    • Sibz
    • By Sibz 12th Oct 18, 1:41 PM
    • 127 Posts
    • 89 Thanks
    Sibz
    • #3
    • 12th Oct 18, 1:41 PM
    • #3
    • 12th Oct 18, 1:41 PM
    Has she even been in the place to see it?
    Where did she come across this advertisement for a flat?
    It all sounds extremely strange... I'm inclined to agree with Wandering above...

    If your sister sends this money - what can she do if everything goes silent and she hears nothing else?
    One main point - If the person is 'going' to America that implies she's not there yet. Have they met?
    If I was renting my place out adhoc and looking for someone to watch my 'stuff' I'd certainly be looking to at least meet them first - wouldn't you?

    Why do they have an attorney/lawyer in the US? Why not here - this is where the property is - right?
    It's defo BS
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 12th Oct 18, 1:46 PM
    • 9,325 Posts
    • 9,962 Thanks
    davidmcn
    • #4
    • 12th Oct 18, 1:46 PM
    • #4
    • 12th Oct 18, 1:46 PM
    Any stranger asking you to pay by Western Union is a scam - even Western Union have said something along those lines.
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 12th Oct 18, 1:49 PM
    • 5,899 Posts
    • 6,187 Thanks
    Comms69
    • #5
    • 12th Oct 18, 1:49 PM
    • #5
    • 12th Oct 18, 1:49 PM
    My sister recently applied to rent a flat, and a lot of things don't really seem to add up:

    • The person letting the property said that this is because she is going to America for a year and is looking for someone to look after her stuff while she is away. - That's fairly reasonable
    • The only paperwork she has received about the property so far is a generic looking "application form", asking questions like whether or not she smokes or has any pets, to gauge her eligibility for the property, which was accepted straight away. - bit strange, but ok.
    • They have now asked for a payment of £500 to be made to their attourney/lawyer in the USA via Western Union to obtain a reference number (MTCN), which "will be used in the shipping process after finishing the documentation", after which the keys and flat documents will be sent to her via 24 hour courier. - and now it's a scam In earlier e-mails, they have said that this £500 consists of a £250 security deposit and £250 part payment of rent, and that this will be protected under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. - nope. what a load of cobblers. Why not use a local letting agent, or even an English solicitor (as in based in England; come from wherever you like!)

    The fact that they are asking her to pay upfront via Western Union without having signed any paperwork makes me question the authenticity of this. However, I only have experience renting a flat through a letting agency, and so I am unable to say for certain whether or not this is normal. - Come on, western union. Really, this American lawyer is going to go running to his nearest post office to collect this...

    Any advice? I will provide any other details I can, but I didn't want to copy-paste the e-mail correspondence here because I'm not 100% sure if that's against the forum's policy or not.
    Originally posted by LeytonJonPaget


    Its not against any policy (though youd be sensible to remove identifying details)


    Yes this is a scam
    • Cakeguts
    • By Cakeguts 12th Oct 18, 2:03 PM
    • 5,338 Posts
    • 8,136 Thanks
    Cakeguts
    • #6
    • 12th Oct 18, 2:03 PM
    • #6
    • 12th Oct 18, 2:03 PM
    It is a common scam in the US what gives it away is not just the Western Union but the keys arriving by courier is also part of these types of scam. The scammers usually advertise on Craigslist in the US so it will be something like Gumtree in the UK.



    The other red flags are that the property is cheaper than it should be for the area that it is in. Sometimes the person is away an not able to show anyone round or they get a "friend" to do it for them. Of course the property in question matches the one in the advert. The photos in the advert are often lifted from a genuine rental property. The person letting the property is away in another country or in the US in another state 1000s miles away from the property.



    This type of scam is so common that there are warnings about it.
    • LeytonJonPaget
    • By LeytonJonPaget 12th Oct 18, 10:07 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    LeytonJonPaget
    • #7
    • 12th Oct 18, 10:07 PM
    • #7
    • 12th Oct 18, 10:07 PM
    Thank you very much everyone for your replies! I've passed this information onto my sister.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 12th Oct 18, 11:06 PM
    • 46,192 Posts
    • 55,923 Thanks
    G_M
    • #8
    • 12th Oct 18, 11:06 PM
    • #8
    • 12th Oct 18, 11:06 PM
    At worst it's a scam (99% certain), but in the highly unlikely event that it is genuine, the tenant would have to withould 20% of the rent to pay HMRC the landlord's tax bill, since the landlord is overseas.......
    • troffasky
    • By troffasky 13th Oct 18, 7:47 AM
    • 115 Posts
    • 67 Thanks
    troffasky
    • #9
    • 13th Oct 18, 7:47 AM
    • #9
    • 13th Oct 18, 7:47 AM
    in the highly unlikely event that it is genuine, the tenant would have to withould 20% of the rent to pay HMRC the landlord's tax bill, since the landlord is overseas.......
    Originally posted by G_M
    Really? Never heard of that one before.
    • robatwork
    • By robatwork 13th Oct 18, 10:26 AM
    • 4,731 Posts
    • 5,310 Thanks
    robatwork
    Normally these "is it a scam?" questions result in a firm NO.

    In your case it's a solid YES bordering on a YES!
    • NeilCr
    • By NeilCr 13th Oct 18, 10:31 AM
    • 2,452 Posts
    • 3,462 Thanks
    NeilCr
    And how to deal with it

    http://www.bitoffun.com/video_vault/joe-lycett-renting-property.htm
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 13th Oct 18, 10:32 AM
    • 9,325 Posts
    • 9,962 Thanks
    davidmcn
    Really?
    Originally posted by troffasky
    Yes, really:

    https://www.gov.uk/tax-uk-income-live-abroad/rent
    • 00ec25
    • By 00ec25 13th Oct 18, 10:39 AM
    • 7,334 Posts
    • 7,048 Thanks
    00ec25
    Really? Never heard of that one before.
    Originally posted by troffasky
    there are times when statements can be immediately dismissed as scams - the OP's situation being an obvious example, and there are other times when statements should be considered for whether they are true but are simply a case of someone knows more than I do and scepticism should be given the benefit of the doubt until you've read up on it - so, welcome to the non resident landlord scheme :

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/paying-tax-on-rent-to-landlords-abroad
    • pinklady21
    • By pinklady21 13th Oct 18, 12:37 PM
    • 822 Posts
    • 595 Thanks
    pinklady21
    there are times when statements can be immediately dismissed as scams - the OP's situation being an obvious example, and there are other times when statements should be considered for whether they are true but are simply a case of someone knows more than I do and scepticism should be given the benefit of the doubt until you've read up on it - so, welcome to the non resident landlord scheme :

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/paying-tax-on-rent-to-landlords-abroad
    Originally posted by 00ec25
    What happens if a tenant of an overseas fails to do this? Can they be held responsible by HMRC? What sanction could HMRC impose?
    • Smodlet
    • By Smodlet 13th Oct 18, 12:47 PM
    • 4,197 Posts
    • 7,517 Thanks
    Smodlet
    Nothing short of spectacular. Thank you, NeilCr.
    What is this life if, sweet wordsmith, we have no time to take the pith?
    Every stew starts with the first onion.
    I took it upon myself to investigate a trifle; it had custard, jelly, soggy sponge things...
    • kazwookie
    • By kazwookie 13th Oct 18, 12:50 PM
    • 10,167 Posts
    • 125,653 Thanks
    kazwookie
    Why would your sister want to look after someone elses 'stuff'?
    Sun, Sea
    Slinky is back on!
    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 13th Oct 18, 1:01 PM
    • 65,287 Posts
    • 383,140 Thanks
    PasturesNew
    Why would your sister want to look after someone elses 'stuff'?
    Originally posted by kazwookie
    Cheaper rent?

    "It's a 2 bed flat, but I want to keep my stuff here - so I'm renting it as a 1 bed and you'll be looking after that stuff for me, which will all be in the 2nd bedroom, so I've reduced the rent so I can pick somebody lovely and honest - such as yourself...."
    • cherryblossomzel
    • By cherryblossomzel 13th Oct 18, 1:04 PM
    • 482 Posts
    • 577 Thanks
    cherryblossomzel
    Marvelous
    • AnotherJoe
    • By AnotherJoe 13th Oct 18, 1:05 PM
    • 11,864 Posts
    • 13,842 Thanks
    AnotherJoe
    Copper bottomed guaranteed 100% scam. Tell sister to avoid unless she has too much money.

    p.s. even if she's seen and visited the flat, its STILL a scam. Person rents flat , acts the part of the "friend" showing her round, plays this scam out dozens of times before vanishing.
    Last edited by AnotherJoe; 13-10-2018 at 1:10 PM.
    Please dont criticise my spelling. It's excellent. Its my typing that's bad.
    • 00ec25
    • By 00ec25 13th Oct 18, 4:43 PM
    • 7,334 Posts
    • 7,048 Thanks
    00ec25
    What happens if a tenant of an overseas fails to do this? Can they be held responsible by HMRC? What sanction could HMRC impose?
    Originally posted by pinklady21
    if you really wanted to know then you'd read chapter 7 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/502842/nrl_guide_notes.pdf
    Last edited by 00ec25; 13-10-2018 at 6:00 PM.
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