My son, who recently moved to London, found a room to rent for November via a website theroomlet.co.uk.
After a virtual viewing, and submission of proof of his ID, his application was approved via email and we paid £800 (a month’s rent) in advance plus £784 (security deposit) by bank transfer.
He was due to move in on 31 October but, since the payment was made, we have heard nothing back and “John”, our contact at theroomlet, is not responding to phone calls, texts or emails.
It now looks as though this is a scam, although, as of today, the website – comprehensive and convincing in its content – remains live and is still inviting prospective tenants to apply.
LB, by email
I am afraid that you are right, this was a scam operation. The tell-tale signs were that all the properties advertised on the site looked very similar, and they were all too cheap for the areas of London in which they were advertised – if £800 a month can be considered cheap.
I, too, sent the site owner two messages asking for an explanation but have heard nothing. Since then the site has been pulled off the web.
You have done the right thing in contacting your bank and explaining that you have been defrauded, although I fear that you will not refunded.
The moral of this tale is to never hand over any money via a bank transfer for an item that you have not seen. This form of payment is not protected in the same way as a credit card, which is covered by the consumer rights act.
The web is awash with scammers trying to get people to make bank transfers for cars, motorhomes, watches, holiday apartments, and, now, rooms to rent.
However plausible it sounds, and however much you want the item or service, and crucially, however much of a bargain it looks, you need to stop and ask yourself: “What protection do I have if this fails to arrive?”
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