A tenant has been scammed by a Gumtree advertiser who stole more than £2,000, leaving her facing homelessness.
Mum-of-four, Shirley Jones, from Coventry, fell for the flat rental scam after answering the advert for a three-bedroom home in Nuneaton that was available to rent on the classified site.
But after forking out £2,250 as a deposit and moving in, she found out her new landlord was a tenant at the property and had no right to lease it to her. The 46-year-old has now been left without enough savings to get a new home.
Shirley claims she contacted the purported owner of the property and after a few conversations agreed to pay £2,250 to secure it. She says: “I don’t know what’s going to happen now. I could be kicked out and made homeless. I’ve spent ages saving up to move and found this one on Gumtree and thought it would be perfect. Now I’ve been scammed.”
Gumtree says it takes all allegations of fraud extremely seriously. A spokesman tells LandlordZONE that it requires property ads on the site to comply with government regulations for property advertising.
He says: “We also list safety advice for prospective tenants on our website, which recommends that all potential tenants check the relevant paperwork, ask to see proof of ownership, and ensure a tenancy agreement is in place before paying deposits or holding fees.”
He adds: “Whilst fraudulent adverts are uncommon, we urge anyone who thinks they may have come across a scam to report it to us immediately via the ‘Report this ad’ button so that our dedicated trust and safety team can take necessary action. This could include removing adverts and blocking offending users, as well as supporting law enforcement in their investigations.”
It is almost exactly a year to the day since another high profile scam was uncovered; when a young couple lost £800 in almost identical circumstances.
West Midlands Police are investigating the case.