uh-oh.

okay so i think i’m in trouble, or better put, made a stupid fucking mistake.

i made another one yesterday when i went to the cash point, pressed £30 and then proceeded to wander off, forgetting to take the money. well done.

i gave £250 to a woman i’d met about 15mins beforehand. let me explain. i found an advert on gumtree for a house share. i emailed the woman and we arranged that i would visit yesterday. the viewing got cancelled because she had to work (giving a good excuse, i didn’t question it) and we rescheduled for noon today. i’d only contacted her through email at this point. i arrived today and looked round a really nice flat. she was there with her partner (who lives somewhere else) and she came across as quite a shy, friendly person.

i loved the place so asked if i could move in. she agreed and said that i could have the keys today, because she was going away for a couple of weeks (to guildford to stay with the boyfriend). i offered a couple of different methods of paying the deposit (online transfer, cheque, cash). she suggested cash and i said that i couldn’t get out the full £375 deposit, as there was a daily limit, which she knew about and said it would be fine anyway.

we chatted a bit more about moving, she said she’d leave some parking scratch cards for me, that a carpenter would arrive on friday to replace a door, her mum would be there to pay him. they offered advice on where to park, where not to park etc. they seemed like a nice, genuine couple.

so happy me thanks them and with keys i get back in the car and drive off, on the understanding that i could start moving my things in tomorrow. it only struck me as i was driving away what had just happened. my first thought was, she’s just given me the keys and i have no idea if they work. i gave her cash, she gave me a sort of receipt (page with her name, date and amount on) i suggested she count it, she said she was sure it was all there. so i started to worry a bit on the way home.

one of the first things i did when i got back was check her email address on scam sites, log on to the staff listings of her company and check the name/photo (it does look like her i have to say – and that’s what i’m holding on to right now). nothing suspicious at all. even her linkedin profile pic looks like her. so, still worrying i make up an excuse to give her a call (that i want to measure the hallways). it rings…and goes to answerphone. that was 1 1/2 hours ago and i haven’t heard back. she said she would be busy packing up stuff and they were expecting to leave about 4pm so that could be a reason.

the more i think about it, the more i become concerned. i looked at loads of ‘what to do if you think you’ve been scammed’ / house renting scam websites and nothing seemed to fit. when i think back to the flat, i saw a bit of her room and there was hardly anything inside it (i don’t even think i saw a wardrobe), but that could be because she’s moved out a lot of it (she said she hardly spends any time there). everything was very clean and i don’t remember seeing family photos or anything.

it’s almost 3 o’clock and this is what i’m going to do. stakeout. i’m going to go and park on the street, run up to the hallway door (it’s a 3 flat house) /

okay she just sent me a message, which is actually reassuring:

hi james, you can pop around to measure whenever, we will head off about 4:30. i’m just clearing out a couple of shelves in the kitchen cupboard for you, will send boiler details etc on email. if we can arrange the rent to be paid from next friday, ususal payment is on 2nd/3rd month, pro rata this month is 11 days x £13? parking permits on side, thanks [her name].

damn i’ve got myself into quite a paranoid mess. it sounds legit right? i mean there’s only one way to tell and that’s to go over at 4:31pm and try the locks. shit.

so fingers crossed, watch for the update.

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