Catford mum's moving day hell after landlord runs off with £2,000 deposit and house keys (From News Shopper)
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Catford mum's moving day hell after landlord runs off with £2,000 deposit and house keys
A SINGLE mum from Catford went through moving day hell when her new landlord made off with the house keys and her £2,000 deposit.
Hollie Watson, 24, faced a "nightmare" after packing up her home with seven-year-old son Tyler only to find the landlord did not show at their new house.
Ms Watson, who lives in Bromley Road, told News Shopper: "We were distressed because our house was in boxes - we were ready to go.
"He was meant to be meeting us at the property to give us the keys and he just didn’t come.
"It is so heartbreaking to unpack your house in the same house - such a pointless exercise.
"Financially it’s left us in a difficult situation - it is a lot of money.
"I am a single mum who works part-time and to lose it for nothing is even worse.
"I think it is disgusting that he thinks it is OK to take people’s money.
"My son is really upset because the flat was perfect for us.
"It was at the top of my mum’s road and close to his school and he was excited to be close to family."
The hairdresser first saw the property in Wickham Road, Brockley, advertised on Gumtree.
She was persuaded to pay a deposit and maintenance fee of £2,009.53 on May 1 after viewing the house and was set to move in the following weekend.
The mother-of-one says she has repeatedly been shuffled back and forth between the police, the companies which featured the advert and the government agency Action Fraud, with no one offering help or advice.
She also says the con means she can no longer afford to move.
A Lewisham Police spokesman said: "We can confirm Lewisham Police were notified on June 6 of an allegation of fraud by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau following a report that was taken by Action Fraud.
"We are aware of an allegation whereby a woman had transferred money to a suspect who advertised properties on Gumtree and has received no further contact from him.
"It has been passed to Lewisham Police to be investigated."
A Gumtree.com spokeswoman said: “We take any fraudulent activity extremely seriously and do everything we can to keep scammers off the site.
"We work closely with the police to help secure prosecutions where possible and our dedicated safety team work round the clock to investigate ads that are brought to our attention and block any offenders.
"In this case, we provided Hollie with our law enforcement details and banned the seller as soon as we were alerted to the incident.
“For those house-hunting on Gumtree, we actively encourage anyone to meet prospective landlords in person and ask to see their proof of ownership for the property before handing over any money such as a deposit. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
She added: “For extra peace of mind, we advise people consider only renting from a landlord or agent who is a member of a professional accreditation scheme such as ARLA, NALs or NLA.”
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