Allara St flats used in international rental scam

johnboy 28 January 2009 28

The Canberra Times has a piece on a Chinese girl scammed out of large sums by someone claiming to be in England for a room in a flat on Allara St.

    “The scammer, who claimed to be based in England, used photos of a Civic property and a fake contract to dupe the 19-year-old Chinese student.

    It is understood the Australian Federal Police told the student that overseas fraudsters fell outside their jurisdiction.”

While it’s not a perfect protection, never put down a deposit until you’ve actually been inside the property, and get the key at the same time you hand over the money.

Also… How do the police know the criminal is overseas until the investigate? Putting “I am in England” on the bottom of emails is now a “get out of jail free” card?

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28 Responses to Allara St flats used in international rental scam
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colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 4:52 pm 27 Oct 09

Madame Workalot said :

I don’t get it. The place mentioned by Skid is being offered by a real estate agent – same price, same details etc. I looked on their specific site.

The scammer is claiming to rent it out for $200….

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 4:38 pm 27 Oct 09

@Madame:
Homebound.com.au is a legitimate website, listings on it are managed only by Real Estate Agencies.
It and similar websites would be a handy datasource if you were running this kind of scam.

I suspect that scamfree above just happens to have been flagged as a potential mark by whoever is running the scam, but for some reason they’ve decided to run it early (ie: while the apartment is still being advertised), instead of waiting a few weeks for the apartment to be taken off the website, when it wouldn’t quite so clearly be a scam.
But you don’t scam people who perform due diligence checks, you scam the other kind.

@CapitalK:
For some reason hospitals are really common addresses for people scamming, spamming, or otherwise requiring fake identities (108-112 Daisy Bank Road, Manchester is the Victoria Park Hospital).
No idea why its hospitals, though.

But paying attention to addresses (and other available data) is a worthwhile quick check for any online transaction.

Madame Workalot Madame Workalot 1:28 pm 27 Oct 09

I don’t get it. The place mentioned by Skid is being offered by a real estate agent – same price, same details etc. I looked on their specific site.

CapitalK CapitalK 12:28 pm 27 Oct 09

google on Stephanie’s postcode and address shows she apparently lives
CARE Manchester 108-112 Daisy Bank Road, Victoria Park, Manchester
She could have at least put a residential address

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 10:19 am 27 Oct 09

406/2 Marcus Clarke St, courtesy of Homebound.com.au

It rents at $450/week (ie: $1800/month), what kind of person seriously thinks that something offered at less than half the market rate in the same building isn’t a scam?

And assuming that now by mentioning an address used in the scam we’re likely to attract Google hits on the topic after next indexing, to clarify why I mentioned never trusting someone who only accepts payment through Western Union (despite the fact that Western Union advise to never send money to people you don’t know):
They’re a highly vulnerable system.

Anyone can pick up a Western Union transfer, anywhere in the world, so long as the recipient:
1) Have the Money Transfer Control Number (ie: transaction code), and sender details. You can check the transfer status online with any of these things, too.
2) Depending on the Agent they go through and the country they are in, they might have to know the expected amount, and possibly present ID in the name of the receiver. Some Agents are in countries where WU don’t require ID, so are excellent scammer hubs.

As a result, they’re amazingly easy to orchestrate an international scam through, and thanks to their corporate policy of offering no buyer protection, no escrow service, and no dispute settlement services.
Your money, your transaction, your risk, your problem.

Special G Special G 7:10 am 27 Oct 09

$200 a week for an apartment in the city – you beaudy – I’ll take that and then sublet the other room for $250 a week and make some cash.

As the GD’s copper taking this one it will be good to investigate as I will have to attend China and the UK personally to do a proper job.

Thecman said it. It’s is tricky enough dealing with cross jurisdictional borders in Australia let alone internationally.

scamfree scamfree 3:10 am 27 Oct 09

My partner and I are looking for place to move into in Canberra, and just got hit with one of these scams.

Apparently the landlord is a Chinese 30 year-old living in … you guessed it… Manchester UK. Her mother is sick, that is why she is in the UK (aw). She wants us to deposit $800 through Western Union.

The person claims to be one Stephanie Chien, and even sends a signed document from her lawyer, along with copies of her passport and driver’s license. Here is the ad:

“Capital Towers

Situated only a few minutes from the city centre, this fully furnished apartment offers:

– Spacious living area opening onto a balcony overlooking the pool;
– Two bedrooms, both with built in robes;
– Laundry with washing machine and dryer;
– Fully equipped kitchen, including dishwasher.
– Utilities Included.
– Address: 406/2 Marcus Clarke Street,City ACT 2601, Australia

The complex offers a pool, tennis court and gym.

Secure entrance with concierge and lift access.

Rent: $200Per Week ($800.00 Per Month) Bond: $800.00 (The Bond is refundable on your move out}..

Personal info: Stephanie, 30 yrs. old, Female, Straight, Professional.

If you have anything else you like to know,kindly get back to me..

Attached is beautiful photos of an upscale apartment in the City.

The scammer is obviously using a stolen ID to begin with… we’re trying to figure out how they got our email. Maybe from the ANU website or Allhomes.com.au.

We foolishly believed her. So we replied, and got the following second email:


Dear XXX & YYY,
How are you doing,my lawyer email me in couples of minute ago and he instructed me to send you my passport copy,i will go ahead and sign the lease document and send it to me via email and Also you can go ahead and make your payment , you are in safe hands and here is my passport for reference purpose and i will also issue a receipt of payment for reference as well , so you can go ahead and make your payment,I would want you to make the payment through Western Union Money Transfer, and immediately you sent the details to me, I would verify and make the acknowledgment letter ready for you.
Below are the details you need in sending the payment:-

Name: Stephanie Chien
Address :112 Daisy Bank Rd, Manchester
City : Lancashire
Postal Code: M14 5QH
Country : United Kingdom
I would be expecting to read from you as soon as possible. Till then, take good care of yourself.
Best Regards,
Stephanie.

Just so you know.

mutley mutley 8:13 pm 28 Jan 09

Occam’s Razor.

So “the coppers haven’t done/refuse to do anything” is the simplest explanation? That’s an interesting way of looking at it.

By the way, I’m loving the google ads this one is bringing up!

thecman thecman 8:12 pm 28 Jan 09

Johnboy you are displaying your ignorance again. The illegal Foxtel users are investigated and prosecuted because they and the evidence are within the Australian jurisdiction – this is not the case with the vast majority of Internet based scams and fraud.

thecman thecman 8:09 pm 28 Jan 09

It’s not about blaming the victim at all, the real issue is the practicality of conducting an investigation and collecting evidence over multiple national jurisdictions. All police agencies, particularly those in western democracies, are accountable for the way they spend public monies. Do you want the AFP, Commonwealth DPP, Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Dept and Courts to expend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on criminal investigations, evidence collection and extradition processes for crimes that have a low financial value. Or would you prefer those resources to be directed to more pressing domestic issues….

Please don’t forget that law enforcement has significant experience with these types of scams – including numerous attempts to bring the perpetrators to account. Unfortunately modern technology and Internet savvy criminals do not have the respect for international borders and systems of justice that Police are compelled to demonstrate.

johnboy johnboy 8:03 pm 28 Jan 09

So how rich does one need to be to get serious help from the police?

Each illegal Foxtel connection can’t be worth more than a couple of hundred dollars but that seems to have warranted large and complex investigations in the past.

caf caf 7:47 pm 28 Jan 09

Each individual instance of the scam might well involve only a relatively small amount of money, but if the aggregate amount of money across all instances of the scam is high enough it could well be worth going after one offender for the deterrent value.

Of course, it’s obvious from the blame-the-victim handwashing above that nothing of the sort is going to be contemplated.

caf caf 7:44 pm 28 Jan 09

What makes you think they haven’t?

Occam’s Razor.

Tooks Tooks 7:35 pm 28 Jan 09

That scam has been around for ages. When will people ever learn?

thecman thecman 6:20 pm 28 Jan 09

I imagine ‘they’ know the offender in this matter is in England because that’s where the victim sent the money to via Western Union or whatever other remittance service was utilised to transfer the funds from Australia.

These are not simple matters to investigate and realistically, for the relatively small amount of money involved, it is not a priority for any law enforcement agency anywhere in the world, not just the AFP. There are literally dozens of these types of scams perpetrated on Australian citizens every day and it is always the same story, the victim sees an offer that is too good to be true and ends up doing their hard earned.

Sorry Johnboy, you run a great online forum but your knowledge of what is involved in the type of multi-jurisdiction investigation you are proposing is zero.

mutley mutley 3:33 pm 28 Jan 09

They could at least pass it on to relevant law enforcement agencies

What makes you think they haven’t?

LaLa LaLa 2:10 pm 28 Jan 09

Pretty old scam already – this has been happening in Canberra and around the world for some time unfortunately. My boyfriends sister sent us one for a house in Ainslie.

It’s quite easy to tell that the landlord is not English by their poor grasp of the English language (something a foreign student may in fact may miss)

For a bit of light humour regarding this subject you might want to read this post http://betedejour.blogspot.com/2008/11/you-had-me-at-hair-dryer-big-gumtree.html

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 1:40 pm 28 Jan 09

They could at least pass it on to relevant law enforcement agencies. And would it hurt to see if this scammer isn’t actually in england? Could be local if they have some knowledge about canberra.

Ozhair Ozhair 1:38 pm 28 Jan 09

In fact, it sounds like it’s fairly common in Melbourne:

http://www.theage.com.au/national/rent-scam-rips-off-students-20081001-4s1r.html

I guess we’re just catching up to our big-city cousins 🙂

Ozhair Ozhair 1:28 pm 28 Jan 09

If this is the same as scams I’ve read about before, the student wouldn’t have been in Australia yet.

The scam normally runs like this: A student from overseas tries to organise accomodation online before the start of the semester, and before arriving in the country. Scammer presents a property online, and it all unfolds as seen here.

But I would’ve thought the “property owner” being in England should have raised some major alarm bells.

But if the scammer is in England, and the victim was in China at the time of the offence, it would probably explain the lack of interest from the AFP. It’d be like me selling you the London Bridge based on some photos, there’d be no interest from Scotland Yard in the matter.

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