Alquilar una habitación o piso en Reino Unido puede ser de lo más difícil, sobre todo porque, como en todas partes, siempre hay gente intentando aprovecharse de los demás. Una de las estafas más habituales (y en la que por desgracia sigue cayendo mucha gente) es aquella en la que nos piden dinero por adelantado para reservarnos el piso. Lo que a muchos nos huele mal desde el principio a otros no, ya sea por miedo a perder la ganga, a llegar a la ciudad sin alojamiento o, siento decirlo, falta de sentido común, lo que provoca que sean timados.

¿Cómo funciona? El estafador publica un anuncio en páginas como Gumtree, Rightmove y demás páginas de alquiler de piso, informando de que tiene un piso para alquilar. Hasta ahí todo normal. El problema viene cuando contestas al anuncio pidiendo más información o notificando que estás interesado. El piso por lo general es una maravilla, nuevo, completamente equipado y con un más que buen precio de alquiler. El estafador también te preguntará a qué te dedicas, si fumas o si tienes mascotas, siguiendo el juego normal de alquilar un piso. Sin embargo, cuando preguntas cuándo puedes ir a verlo (en el caso de que ya vivas en la ciudad) da la casualidad de que ninguno vive ahí.

En los dos casos que me encontré mientras que buscaba piso, uno de los estafadores vivía en Italia y la otra en España. Los dos habían heredado sendos pisos y habían decidido ponerlos en alquiler (¡qué casualidad!). Lo mejor del primero es que, como buen samaritano que es, me explicaba que lo alquilaba a tan buen precio para que así las familias necesitadas pudieran costeárselo. Increíble… La segunda me dijo que era española y cuando le propuse que entonces habláramos en español siguió escribiéndome en inglés lo cual me extrañó un poco.

Cuando les indiqué a ambos que quería ver el piso me contestaron que habían tenido una mala experiencia al intentar alquilarlo, ya que se habían gastado dinero en billetes de avión pero la persona interesada en el piso nunca había aparecido. Por ello, ahora, para estar 100% seguros, me pedían que hiciera una transferencia a través de Wester Union a nombre de un amigo o familiar y que les enviara escaneado el recibo.

NUNCA envíes dinero por un piso que no has visto (y menos por Wester Union). Aunque te dirán que ellos no pueden sacar el dinero puesto que va a nombre de tu amigo o familiar, lo que no te informan es que en muchas oficinas de Western Union sólo te piden el código del giro (que está en el recibo escaneado) y no exigen identificación, con lo que pueden cobrar el dinero sin ningún problema y que tu no vuelvas a saber nada de ellos.

Os dejo los emails de Franz Waldemar Piotr para que veáis cómo son.

Hello,

Thanks for your email. I hope you understand my English. Excuse me if I make mistakes but my English not so good. First I want to provide some information.

I live with my family in Italy. I work here in Italy, I have a 5 year contract with a big company. I work as engineer in construction. The flat was at my uncle who unfortunately which is no longer among us because he had a serious accident. I am the only relative survivors and this flat is now mine. My wife does not want to sell the flat and I decided together to rent this flat. Is a beautiful apartment situated in Argyle Street, Liverpool, in excellent condition, fully furnished and equipped. There is internet connection, phone, washing machine with dryer, cable TV and most important parking place. The rent is £480 per month including all bills and council tax. You can rent the flat as long as you need to stay but minimum 6 months. The first payment will be for 2 months £960 (one month is in advance £480 and the rest £480 is a guarantee for my flat). This money £480 you will get back when we finish the contract if the flat is in good condition.  In case you want it, let me know so we can arrange the transaction. Accept families with children I also accept animals (dogs, cats). I do not want people just referenced. I want to rent this flat a family that is really needed which do not damage and for that i don’t ask for a big rental amount.

I will wait your email so i know if you are interested to rent this flat.

Tras contestarle que estoy interesada y que me gustaría ver el piso esta fue su contestación.

I tried to rent this apartment but I had a bad experience. Two weeks ago I was contacted from a person interested to rent the flat and made me come in U.K. and spend money for the flying tickets, I finally arrived in U.K. and I waited two days and this person has never arrived and I responded more to the phone and my email…

I’m working here in Italy and is very hard for me to come in UK. I can’t take the risk to leave my new job for days and when I arrive in UK to see that I come for nothing. I want to be 100% sure that when I will meet you, we do the rent papers then i can come back in Italy.

So i can be sure of that look how we can do:

You make an deposit with the money that you will pay me for 2 months rent that means £960 using Western Union. You will find an Western Union agency, go there and send the money to an your best friend name or an your familiar name but in Italy. Once the payment is made you will send me the scanned receipt paper from Western Union (PRINTED RECEIPT COPY OF THE TRANSFER ) by email so i know the payment is made. In this way i’m sure you have all the money to rent my flat. As soon as I see the scanned receipt that you have made the payment, I will come in UK and you will see the flat and rent it. After the rental contract is signed, we will go together at the Western Union office and you will change the receivers name to my name so i can pick up the money when i will be in Italy.

So all you have to do is to find a Western Union office and wire £960 from your name to your friend name and send the scanned receipt. I am asking you this to be sure that I do not come in UK for nothing. I hope you understand.

As I told you, I have a lot of customers interested to rent the apartment. I will reserve the apartment to the first one that provides me the scanned paper from Western Union. As soon as I have the confirmation from Western Union that the money are available I stop the transactions with all the other customers!

If you accept my conditions I wait your e-mail. I don’t want you to feel offended if i’ll not answer you in case of a negative answer, because I don’t see the reason why we should continue to write each other, since I will not accept any other way to close the deal.

Aun así le contesté que no estaba dispuesta a enviar dinero y, aunque él me decía que no me ofendiera si no me contestaba si no aceptaba sus condiciones recibí un tercer email de Franz.

Hello,

You don’t understand it. I’m not asking for the money in advance, I just want to be sure that I do not travel with the airplane and take days off from work and eventually arrived in England not to meet anyone.

You will not pay anything until you will see the flat. You needs to send the money in your familiar name or in your best friend name in Italy, not in my name, then you’re the only person who can acces this money, but for me is a guarantee that you will not miss the meeting.

The transfer must be in this way:

Sender’s name: here is your name

Sender’s address: Your address

Name of receiver: here will be your friend’s name or the name of your family (mother, brother etc..)

Address of the receiver: here will be Italy

When you have sent the money, you have to confirm this transaction by email with the scanning of the receipt of transfer. At this point, your reservation for the flat will be final.

Once I see the receipt from Western Union, I will go to book the airplane ticket and I will send an email with the scanned ticket and you can see when i’m in UK.

Don’t worry for transfer commission, that money will give you back at the time of the transaction. We cover all expenses for this transfer of money once I arrive in U.K. All fees will be subtracted from the price off the flat.

Our meeting we go and you can see the flat, so you also see that the flat is in good standing, and then we will go for making the documents.

After all documents are in your name, we will go together to the western union, you will change the receivers name to my name so i can pick up the money when i will be back in Italy.

This is my proposal and I want to know if you agree, do not want to come and spend money and ultimately not find anyone.

Aquí terminaron mis conversaciones con Franz. Unos días más tarde el anuncio desapareció. Si cuando buscáis piso en Reino Unido os contestan con este mismo tipo de email ya sabéis que es una estafa y que por nada del mundo hay que enviar dinero (y más aún estas cantidades de dinero) a no ser que queráis ser timados.