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Allara St flats used in international rental scam

By 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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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 4:38 pm 27 Oct 09

@Madame: 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.

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 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 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 10:19 am 27 Oct 09

406/2 Marcus Clarke St, courtesy of

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 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 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

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,

Just so you know.

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!

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