Cheaters and time wasters. On Gumtree.

Pozor! Dlouhý text! :) Pro českou verzi scrollujte dolů 

If you are looking for an apartment or room to share in such a big city like London, probably you will meet a pretender. Or two. Or five as in my case.

At the beginning you don't know what is happening. You found a really nice apartment for a very low price. Well yes, it is suspected, but you will try it and response to the advertisement. The answer is likely to come very soon. Usually, there is the reason why the owner rents this apartment so cheap. There are psychological maneuvers. Pretender is trying to play with your feelings, he share further details about his life, he bring up a trust, it is a honest man. He will ask you a few additional information and (if you are not completely stupid and naive) you still will have feeling that something is wrong and it's too good than to be true. Right, it's not.

"Cindy Forman" taught me a few basic signs, how to identify a cheater. With all 'll introduce you, but let's start with a nice story.

I used Gumtree.com to finding an apartment and also I created an advertisement (as a person who is looking with boyfriend and a dog for housing). In the ad I said relatively much detailed information about us, like what we do, who we are, what we like and who we would like to share housing. On this ad I referenced in every ad, to which I responded that I did not have all the information unnecessarily duplicated.

This is an apartment that I found on Gumtree at the beginning of my search. I answered an ad with the fact that I like it, I added a few additional questions about the dog, etc.. and I asked if I could arrange a viewing to date, just when I'll be in London. The answer came to me on my private e-mail, which was very strange because Gumtree uses e-mail encryption to protect personal data. But I thought that the owner probably seen my profile where I have listed my website and according to them, maybe he found my mail there, so I guess it's ok. The answer looks like this:

Hello, 

My name is Cindy Forman and I just got an e-mail regarding your interest in my apartment .

Why is the price so low? I have just divorced from my husband (after confessed that he had fallen in love with another woman, I decided to divorce), and I had to move to Munich ,Germany. I don't want to sell the apartment because I have a 12 years old daughter who will come to study in England high school and college. So all that I want to do now is to rent the apartment to some nice and responsible persons, who will take good care of the apartment for the next years. I have won the apartment after the sharing of the of marital properties. I am the single owner, the apartment is fully paid and there is no legal problem. The apartment is unoccupied since I no longer live there.

I would like to know more details about yourself : How old are you, if you are married, if you have a pet, if you have a car, occupation etc.. I love pets and they are welcome in the apartment. You should also know that I appreciate the sincerity.

In addition to the rest, here is some information about myself and about the apartment, so we knew a little more.

The apartment is exactly like in the pictures, fully furnished, fully equipped, so you won't need anything to move in (you can also bring your own things furniture if you have). It has been recently renovated.

The monthly rent is 600 pounds (for the whole apartment) with utilities (water, electricity, internet, cable, one parking space) - INCLUDED. You can rent the apartment for an indefinite period, but for a minimum period of two months.The security deposit is also 600 pounds, and you get it back, when you decide to leave the apartment (you will have to give me at least 30 days notice).

About myself, I am 35 years old, single woman, and as mentioned above I am living in Munich ,Germany. 

If you agree and you are decided to rent the apartment i am are ready to make a trip to England and meet you in a city acceptable for both of us. If this is agreeable to you please include your location in your next reply.

I appreciate your interest in my apartment and I'm looking forward to our future collaboration and friendship.

Sincerely,

It seems odd that Cindy did not answer one of my questions and she is asking me again for things I had in my profile, but at the moment it's still not weird enough. So I sent a reply to her again and we started to negotiate on the date of the meeting. Before she answered again, it took several hours and I was still trying to figure out how to find out if it is not the whole scam. I searched the pictures of the apartment via Google and I found out that this one is an apartments of the complex new buildings and their price is typically three times higher than the price that "Cindy" wrote me. So it was clear to me that something's wrong, but still I was not sure. And finally I got an idea to try to google text from the first e-mail that she sent and voila! Deception was revealed!

Cindy is sometimes more like Cindy Sonam, Cindy Cordan, Cindy Pauler, Cindy Laumer and a text or e-mail are modified as needed.

However, even then I confirmed this is a scam and divorced Cindy doesn't exist, last e-mail came from her and sounded like this:

We can meet on 18th Sept in London at the house .

I am ready to meet you as we agreed and finish the deal, but before all things I must be sure that you will be there and I will not make the journey for nothing... I hope you understand me!

My friend will go to the Western Union Office here in Munich and she will make a transfer ON MY NAME with destination London. I will be the beneficiary of 1200 pounds in London, the place of our meeting. I think that the amount is considerable as a proof of coming and that I will be there to meet you! As soon as the transfer is finished I will scan the paper of my transfer and I will send it via e-mail!

The same thing I want from you! A best friend or a relative of yours must go to the Western Union Office (Money Transfer) there in your town to any Western Union Agency and make a transfer of 1200 pounds  ON YOUR NAME with destination London. I want to see you the beneficiary of 1200 pounds in London!

This way we both gain confidence, it represents the proof for me that you have the money and you will come there to meet me!

My point is that after I will see this transfer on your name I will be sure that you will be there and we will go together to the Western Union in London to take your money back.

Maybe you worry about the transfer tax that your friend will pay... about 40 pounds, but because this is my only condition, I will give you the money-tax back when we will meet.

I told you, I am ready to meet you, but without this proof I will not be able to accept and make this long road to England without any result. I will wait for your decision regarding my only condition in this deal.

PS: You must do the transfer soon so i can keep the flat for you .

 

I am not that stupid to send money to person I had never saw before. But there are people in the world who just didn't understand this is a scam and eventually go to the bank to have the money saved. But it is the best way to lose of thousands.

So if you ever look for an apartment (and not just in London, because these practices operate worldwide) beware of these signs:

  1. Housing is nice and cheap. This will never work. It's just a trap in which they try to catch through a low cost.
  2. They want your private e-mail address. Do not give them to them. If you had the inscription on the private e-mail, almost no one can trace it. Despite Gumtree or other services (Spareroom, Flatshare, etc.) would be quickly banned.
  3. Their e-mail address consists of characters and digits. It is simply generated, because it must change frequently. As "Cindy" had cindyfo908@gmail.com. This is not normal.
  4. Do not respond to your questions. They have always a template of e-mail, they do not have time to waste. Usually are they asking for things that you've written them already.
  5. They would traveled for hundreds of kilometers. I really doubt that Cindy would just hopped on a plane and waste two days to show me her apartment. They doesn't mean it seriously.
  6. They want you to put money into an account through Western Union. It is not only a good sign, it is the journey to hell! Never do this and as soon as you get this message, immediately stop the conversation because it is a scam!
  7. They want you to bring money to the apartment viewing. Again, the road to hell. You can loose you money, and it can hurt you. Reputable landlords don't do this. Do not carry your money, it can be dangerous!

If you find a similar ad and you're not sure if it is a scam, do not try search the pretender by name. Using fake and often changing. It is better to try to find a property for sale or rent by pictures because probably you will find it in some real estate site at a price three times higher. Or try to copy a piece of text and search with google. Maybe some other people has similar experience and they wrote about it.

I was very upset when I figured out this is a cheater, it was wasting of my time. But I wanted to understand this behavior and find out more about the man who is behind it and that's why I sent Cindy few questions for interview. She didn't wrote me. No surprise :)

Good luck in your search!

 

// 

Pokud hledáte byt nebo pokoj ke sdílení v tak velkém městě jako je Londýn, je velmi pravděpodobné, že narazíte na nějakého podvodníka. Nebo na dva. Nebo pět jako v mém případě. 

V první chvíi vám to ještě nedojde. Najdete opravdu nádherný byt za hodně nízkou cenu. No ano, je to podezřelé, ale na první pokus za zkoušku nic nedáte a na inzerát odepíšete. Odpověď pravděpodobně přijde velmi záhy. Obvykle je v ní uveden důvod proč majitel byt pronajímá tak lacino. Nechybí psychologické manévry, kdy se podvodník snaží nějak hrát na vaše city, uvádí podrobnější detaily o svém životě, aby ve vás vyvolal důvěru, že se jedná o poctivého člověka. Požádá vás o několik doplňujících informací a (pokud nejste úplně hloupí a naivní) stále ve vás bude hlodat pocit, že je něco špatně a že je to až příliš dobré než aby to byla pravda. Není.

"Cindy Forman" mě naučila několik základních znamení, jak takového podvodníka poznat. Se všemi vás seznámím, ale nejdřív hezky popořadě začněme od příběhu.

Na Gumtree.com jsem si kromě hledání bytů také sama vytvořila jeden inzerát (jako osoba, která se svým přítelem a psem hledá bydlení). V inzerátu jsem uvedla relativně hodně podrobných informací o nás, co děláme, jací jsme, co máme rádi a s kým bychom chtěli sdílet bydlení. Na tenhle inzerát jsem odkazovala v každém inzerátu, na který jsem odpovídala, abych všechny informace nemusela zbytečně duplikovat. 

Tohle je byt, který jsem na Gumtree našla hned zpočátku svého hledání. Odpověděla jsem na inzerát s tím, že mě zaujal, přidala jsem pár doplňujících dotazů ohledně psa atp. a zeptala jsem se jestli si můžu domluvit prohlídku na datum, kdy zrovna budu v Londýně. Odpověď mi přišla na můj soukromý e-mail, což bylo velmi zvláštní, protože Gumtree využívá kódování e-mailu, aby ochránila osobní údaje uživatelů. Ale říkala jsem si, že majitel asi viděl můj profil, kde mám uvedené svoje webové stránky a možná podle nich našel i můj mail, takže se to zdálo být ok. Odpověď vypadala takto:

Hello, 

My name is Cindy Forman and I just got an e-mail regarding your interest in my apartment .

Why is the price so low? I have just divorced from my husband (after confessed that he had fallen in love with another woman, I decided to divorce), and I had to move to Munich ,Germany. I don't want to sell the apartment because I have a 12 years old daughter who will come to study in England high school and college. So all that I want to do now is to rent the apartment to some nice and responsible persons, who will take good care of the apartment for the next years. I have won the apartment after the sharing of the of marital properties. I am the single owner, the apartment is fully paid and there is no legal problem. The apartment is unoccupied since I no longer live there.

I would like to know more details about yourself : How old are you, if you are married, if you have a pet, if you have a car, occupation etc.. I love pets and they are welcome in the apartment. You should also know that I appreciate the sincerity.

In addition to the rest, here is some information about myself and about the apartment, so we knew a little more.

The apartment is exactly like in the pictures, fully furnished, fully equipped, so you won't need anything to move in (you can also bring your own things furniture if you have). It has been recently renovated.

The monthly rent is 600 pounds (for the whole apartment) with utilities (water, electricity, internet, cable, one parking space) - INCLUDED. You can rent the apartment for an indefinite period, but for a minimum period of two months.The security deposit is also 600 pounds, and you get it back, when you decide to leave the apartment (you will have to give me at least 30 days notice).

About myself, I am 35 years old, single woman, and as mentioned above I am living in Munich ,Germany. 

If you agree and you are decided to rent the apartment i am are ready to make a trip to England and meet you in a city acceptable for both of us. If this is agreeable to you please include your location in your next reply.

I appreciate your interest in my apartment and I'm looking forward to our future collaboration and friendship.

Sincerely, 

Bylo mi divné, že Cindy neodpověděla ani na jeden z mých dotazů a dokonce se mě znovu ptá i na věci, které jsem měla ve svém profilu, ale v tuhle chvíli to ještě pořád nebylo dostatečně divné. Takže jsem jí znovu poslala odpověď a začali jsme se domlouvat na datu schůzky. Než mi znovu odpověděla, trvalo to několik hodin a já jsem se zatím snažila přijít na to, jak zjistit, jestli to není celé podvod. Vyhledala jsem si obrázky toho bytu a zjistila jsem, že to jsou byty z jednoho celého komplexu novostaveb a jejich cena je obvykle třikrát vyšší než cena, kterou mi napsala Cindy. Takže už mi bylo jasné, že něco tady nehraje, ale ještě pořád jsem si nebyla stoprocentně jistá. Až nakonec mě napadlo zkusit si vyhledat část textu e-mailu, který mi poslala hned poprvé a voilá! podvod byl odhalen! 

Cindy se občas představuje ještě jako Cindy SonamCindy CordanCindy PaulerCindy Laumer a text e-mailu upravuje podle potřeby. 

Nicméně ještě potom mi tenhle podvod potvrdila samotná Cindy, když její poslední mail zněl takhle:

We can meet on 18th Sept in London at the house .

I am ready to meet you as we agreed and finish the deal, but before all things I must be sure that you will be there and I will not make the journey for nothing... I hope you understand me!

My friend will go to the Western Union Office here in Munich and she will make a transfer ON MY NAME with destination London. I will be the beneficiary of 1200 pounds in London, the place of our meeting. I think that the amount is considerable as a proof of coming and that I will be there to meet you! As soon as the transfer is finished I will scan the paper of my transfer and I will send it via e-mail!

The same thing I want from you! A best friend or a relative of yours must go to the Western Union Office (Money Transfer) there in your town to any Western Union Agency and make a transfer of 1200 pounds  ON YOUR NAME with destination London. I want to see you the beneficiary of 1200 pounds in London!

This way we both gain confidence, it represents the proof for me that you have the money and you will come there to meet me!

My point is that after I will see this transfer on your name I will be sure that you will be there and we will go together to the Western Union in London to take your money back.

Maybe you worry about the transfer tax that your friend will pay... about 40 pounds, but because this is my only condition, I will give you the money-tax back when we will meet.

I told you, I am ready to meet you, but without this proof I will not be able to accept and make this long road to England without any result. I will wait for your decision regarding my only condition in this deal.

PS: You must do the transfer soon so i can keep the flat for you .

Samozřejmě, že nejsem tak blbá, abych poslala peníze člověku, kterého jsem nikdy předtím neviděla. Ale bohužel jsou na světě lidé, kterým tenhle podvod prostě nedojde a nakonec jdou do banky, aby tam ty peníze uložili. Jenže to je ta nejlepší cesta ke ztrátě několika desítek tisíc. 

Takže budete-li někdy hledat byt (a nemusí to být jen Londýn, protože tyhle praktiky fungují po celém světě) dejte si pozor na tyhle znamení:

  1. Bydlení je hezké a levné. Tohle nikdy fungovat nebude. Je to prostě jen past, do které se vás snaží chytit skrze nízkou cenu.
  2. Chtějí po vás soukromou e-mailovu adresu. Nedávejte jim jí. Pokud vám totiž napíšou na soukromý e-mail, téměř nikdo je nemůže vystopovat. Přes Gumtree nebo jinou službu (Flatshare, Spareroom, atp.) by byli velmi rychle zablokováni.
  3. Jejich e-mailová adresa se skládá ze znaků a číslic. Je prostě generovaná, protože jí musí často měnit. Jako "Cindy" měla cindyfo908@gmail.com. To není normální.
  4. Neodpovídají na vaše dotazy. Mají totiž vždycky předem připravený vzor e-mailu, aby nemuseli ztrácet čas. Obvykle se v něm ptají i na věci které jste jim už předtím napsali.
  5. Cestovali by za vámi i stovky kilometrů. Opravdu pochybuju, že Cindy by jen tak nasedla na letadlo a ztratila třeba dva dny jen tím, aby mi ukázala byt. Nemyslí to vážně.
  6. Chtějí, abyste vložili peníze na účet skrze Western Union. Nejen, že tohle není dobré znamení, to je totiž cesta do pekel! Nikdy to nedělejte a jakmile dostanete  tuhle zprávu, okamžitě ukončete konverzaci, protože se jedná o podvod!
  7. Chtějí, abyste přinesli peníze na prohlídku bytu. Opět cesta do pekel. Nejen, že o ty peníze přijdete, ale ještě vás to může bolet. Tohle seriózní pronajímatelé nedělají. Peníze nenoste, může to být nebezpečné!

Pokud jste na nějaký podobný inzerát narazili a nejste si jistí, jestli se jedná o podvod, nezkoušejte podvodníka hledat podle jména. Používají falešné a často je mění. Je lepší zkusit najít nabízenou nemovitost podle fotky, protože jí pravděpodobně najdete na nějakém realitním serveru za cenu trojnásobně vyšší. Nebo zkuste zkopírovat do vyhledávače kus textu. Je pravděpodobné, že nějaký jiný oklamaný o své zkušenosti napsal a text vám to napoví. 

Byla jsem fakt naštvaná, když jsem zjistila, že Cindy je podvodník, který jen plýtval mým časem. Přesto jsem ale chtěla tohle chování pochopit a zjistit něco víc o člověku, který se za tím skrývá a proto jsem Cindy poslala otázky pro interview. Neodepsala. Žádné překvapení :)

Hodně štěstí při hledání! 

 

 

 

 

 

Bara Perglova

London, United Kingdom