A fraudster pretending to be a landlord scammed a couple looking to move into a new property with their children out of £1,200.
Nina Hyuseinov and her husband Hyusein signed a tenancy agreement on a three-bedroom house on Ferndale Road in Swindon, SN2, only to later discover that they had been ripped-off.
Nina Hyuseinov told the press: “I can’t believe this has happened. We saved up this money since we came to the UK in October, the house was really nice and we were looking forward to moving in with our children.”
The couple had seen the property advertised to let on Gumtree and booked a viewing with a man called Raul who said he was a private landlord.
After being impressed with the property, the couple said they paid him a month’s rent of £800 and half of the £800 deposit in cash, then received a house key.
But when they packed up tried to move in last week the key no longer fitted the lock and the “landlord” stopped answering their phone calls.
Nina added: “He kept saying there were a lot of people interested in the house and we should pay as soon as possible while the room was still available.
“We believed him and went straight to the bank to get cash, now all we have to show for it is a very expensive house key.”
The property’s real owner, Gareth Williams, was shocked to discover that people had been shown around his property.
He told the Advertiser: “I checked the CCTV and saw that someone had broken in and changed the locks, then within hours he had people over for viewings and was showing them around. I was gobsmacked, I’ve heard of something similar happening in London where rents are higher but never in Swindon, it’s like something you see on TV.
“The house was empty and is in the process of being sold so whoever did this must have known it would be empty and targeted it. This was an organised and elaborate rental scam, though the house is now secure.
“He has given unsuspecting tenants false details, a false tenancy agreement, a false address and a pay-as-you-go number that no longer works. I found out about one victim and then the couple came over the day after. I wonder how many other people will turn up in the next few days expecting to move in. I feel really bad for the people affected and I hope they catch the people responsible, though there’s not much chance of getting the money back because they paid in cash.”