Last time Flattrust talked about “How to find a room in Maastricht?” to answer some general questions for people who have just begun to search for rooms. Today, we will discuss one of the most important issues in room search, which are scams and frauds. Although Flattrust has mentioned this issue in our Facebook posts before, we find it necessary to write a clear and fully informative article about this, so that you can protect yourself from these situations.
An example of scams
Yesterday, Flattrust saw a post on the most crowded housing group in Maastricht (Rooms/Kamer/Zimmer Maastricht). This girl reported a case of a person named Jason Scoth Luther. This person offers her a room but asks her to transfer the deposit. The strange thing is he said he worked in England but the bank account address is in Istanbul.
From our experience, this is a typical case of scammers. These people steal others’ personal information like passports, bank account information, pictures and Facebook accounts. Then they create posts in several housing groups (in different cities) with the same caption. The trick that they use here is asking tenants to contact them via email so that they can flexibly change or delete the Facebook account and no ones can track them. Moreover, they ask tenants to transfer money through Western Union which is very low in security and safety.
What kinds of scams are there?
From what we observe, there are 2 kinds of scams: Direct contact and via websites. Direct contact scams are similar to the case above where there is a person scamming by asking you to send him/her the deposit to receive the keys. Scams via websites are the cases that fake housing websites are built, asking people to register and pay an amount of fee to arrange a viewing. This is even more dangerous because a fee is already popular for housing websites and agencies (like Maastricht Housing and Kamernet), but the difference here is when people pay the fee for these fake websites, their money will be gone and no viewing will be arranged.
Some tips for dealing with scams
– Search the user or the caption on Facebook to see whether they have posted it the same somewhere else.
– Contact them, ask for pictures and A VIEWING (both online via Skype or in person is okay). If they reject it for a reason like they are abroad and want you to send them an amount of deposit first, their address is in the UK but the bank account is in Italy for example. IT’S A CLEAR SIGN OF SCAMS. So be aware.
– Don’t think that you can suit the person because he sends you his passport, bank statement, address, and contract with a signature. Because those documents can be fake or stolen from innocent people. Therefore, don’t transfer the money (especially via Western Union) under any circumstances.
– Stay away from fake or unknown housing websites. You can ask people in the housing group to check whether the website is real or not.
– Stay away from all the spam comments that appear firstly under your post.
Have a nice day.