With the entrance of summer many students who are going to study outside their city or town of residence begin their search for accommodation. Nevertheless, some people try to make money by cheating these students taking advantage of the fact that they do not know the language or the destination city.
Before showing you the full interview, we want to advise all those who are going to make any type of purchase online to make sure that there is no possibility of fraud and that your money is safe. Contacting a page that acts as an intermediary between tenant and owner is usually the most eficient and most secure.
In this case our protagonist is called Regina and is Hungarian. According to her testimony, she found an ad on Facebook and contacted the alleged owner. Here we leave the full interview so you can take note of a case of real scam.
-How did you start looking for a room or a flat for your erasmus studies (Facebook,Google,Instagram…)?
I started looking for a room on Facebook, where I saw a flat with a good price and close to the Unviersity of Deusto.
-Did you ask someone for help to find a room or a flat?
Yes, there’s another Hungarian student who was searching for a suitable flat with me.
-Why did you choose Facebook as searching flat tool?
Another Hungarian student who already took part in the Erasmus+ programme recommended this group (Flats & Rooms – Erasmus Bilbao) to me, saying that she found a room here, too.
-Why did you find the room or flat in Facebook?
I saw an advertisement of a flat with 5 rooms for students and I contacted the advertiser, she sent me the pictures and I liked that flat.
-Why did you believe in this FB room post?
At first I sent an email to the „landlord’s” contact email address. She sent me pictures of the available rooms, and later a contract (that seemed real), signed by herself. She sent me the address of the flat in Bilbao which was a real address and it was really close to the University of Deusto where I will study from September.
-Who is the SCAM landlord?
She said that she was a Polish businesswoman, however, I only know her name and email address:
– Michalak Marta
-Did you never suspect about this landlord?
Not at first, because she sent me a picture of her ID card. Everything about it seemed normal, I didn’t see signs of it being fake.
-How did you make the payment to the landlord or with what tool (bank transfer, paypal, moneygram…)?
I sent the money via bank transfer; she asked me to send a security deposit and the first month’s rental price.
-How much money did you pay for the room?
I paid 750 euros for the room in total.
-How did you realize that it was SCAM?
I got a notification from another group member who posted screenshots of the same rooms being advertised in other countries’ Erasmus groups. She wrote me that three rooms of the five were already rented by another international students. So there were only two rooms available for rent according to the advertisement. Me and another Hungarian girl booked the two rooms and we thought everything was fine, we have a place to live during our intership. A few days ago an international student wrote to the facebook group that she payed for a room to rent ont he same address, same flat and then she contacted me after I commented on her post. So if it was only two available rooms it was clear that something wasn’t okay with this advertisement.
After I realized that something wasn’t okay, I wanted to make more evidence for it so I wrote to the same email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) with another email account, asking for available rooms and she answered that there are still available rooms for rent. At this point, I was 100% sure that it was a scam.
-Did you ask someone asking for help or someone helped you after the SCAM?
Yes, I went to the local police in my city but they said they can’t help me easily because it happened outside of my country and it would be a really long process, taking maybe years to get any results, so I contacted the police in Berlin and i gave them the information of the scammer because i send the monney to a german account.