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In the process of finding a flat here in London, I’ve seen lots of shady stuff. But one of my favorites is not a patent scam, but what I call the Contact Leader.

Here’s how it works – you get the newest apartment listings (from Loot or Gumtree) – I mean, hot off the presses. And you see listings – always at the top of the estate agent’s full page ad. They are always unbelievable deals.

And they are always gone by the time you call, even that very minute… and they don’t even bother to pause as if they’re looking up a specific property, they just say “Sorry, that one has been rented…” And the next line is “but we DO have this ____ (same apartment type) in _____ (same neighborhood) for only _____ (1-1/2 times the price of the deal) if you’d like to take a look.” This kind of shady selling isn’t dangerous, just annoying. There’s always a phone contact, because they to rent places out quickly.

So if you see one that’s email only (more prevalent on Gumtree than in Loot) it’s probably a scam.

I emailed about a couple “too good to be true” flats whilst in the apartment hunting process a few weeks ago, figuring they were either contact leaders or outright scams. And I cannot make this up. It’s absolutely precious

Hi,
Thanks for your response and Enquiry, the flat is still available to rent.
My name is [_____] and i am a private landlord.although i own the flat,i do not live in it because i am actually  practicing medicine in [_____].However,i will be willing to meet you,get to know you and show you round the flat so that you can see what you are renting.
The flat is  a fully furnished.
– Toilet and Bathroom with Shower
– Kitchen with modern fittings
– Dish washer/Dryer
– Washing Machine
– Cable TV
– Wired Internet connection
– Street Parking space available
– Tube station five minutes
The price i am looking for is £500 per month  including all bills.
Meanwhile, Below are the lease terms:
* An advance payment of the 2 months rent and one month deposit shall be paid.
* The Rent shall be paid on Monthly.
* If you will need to vacate the flat, notice shall be given a month prior to intended day of moving.

N.B:
Will you be able to take good care of my Flat like your own?
Do you have the money to pay me if you like the Flat after viewing?
Waiting to read from you.

[_____]

Now, it’s obviously a scam. Which is what I expected. But what was so hilarious to me is that I got one of these back from EACH person I emailed about the unbelievable deals…

As in – I got two copies of a form letter where the perpetrator-to-be just changes the random name and the random place they’re practising medicine, and the rest is identical.

You see a lot of innovative stuff out there, but these guys aren’t breaking any new ground. I would, however, love to get everyone’s opinions on the individual elements in the email that are indicators that it’s a scam… for example, why is the “doctor” around to meet you if they are practising medicine in [_____]? One of the ones I got was a guy apologizing for his poor English, even though he owns property in England and purports to practice medicine in Denmark. I don’t know if you know, but the Danes speak excellent English…

What are the other red flags you see?

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