Australian Housing Scam

As my wife is looking for accommodation in Australia she showed me an ad that seemed a bit too good to be true: rent was much lower than any other accommodation within the area (suspicion #1). The person insisted that they not go through the real estate website but to email them directly (suspicion #2). On emailing the person in charge the following email was received:

Hello,
First of all I want to thank you for your reply. I really appreciate you took the time to answer me. I am the owner of the apartment located 500/408 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Vic 3000. It is still available for rent for $190 p/w including utilities for as long as you need. The apartment is in the best conditions, it is newly furnished and equipped with all the dependencies. I bought the apartment in 2007 and I lived there with my pet until last month when I received a promotion and needed to move to Padova / Italy.

In the apartment you will find a dishwasher, a refrigerator, a freezer, a washing machine, a dryer, an iron, , an oven, a toaster, a coffee maker, vacuum cleaner, a big screen TV, cable TV with the basic access, ADSL internet and Wi-Fi access. Also the apartment is near the public transportation, a shopping mall, a gym, and other facilities. There are no problems if you have any pets, as long as you clean up after them. The apartment has a parking space for one car. I have spent a great amount of money refurnishing the apartment and my request is that you treat it like it was your own. I am not interested to make a lot of money from the rent as I am interested to find a tenant that will take good care of the property until my return(minimum lease period, 3 months).

My contract here in Italy expires in October 2013.

Because I had to move to Italy so soon I didn’t had the time to find a trustworthy agent, I had to take the apartment keys with me. I had a real bad experience with the renting agents from the area with my previous home. I can’t come to show you the apartment and I don’t have any friends in the area to send the keys. I found an alternate solution in order to close the transaction safe for the both of us, it is an international delivery solution called Express Metrix (I will pay for a 2 days delivery),they will provide assistance in handling the payment and delivery of the Keys and Lease Agreement.With this procedure you will be able to check the apartment before I receive the payment.

Let me know how this sounds to you.

Looking forward to your answer.

Best regards,

Milda Stoehr.

After Googling this search phrase “I received a promotion and needed to move to” and found the following 3 links:

  1. Suspicious Housing
  2. Apartment Rental Scam
  3. Beware of new rental share accommodation scams (see comments for some scams)

This is probably a bogus escrow scam and I hope this will help inform people of these scams and to be wary of dealings with people online. While it seems to be Australian focused, a friend mentioned that there is a similar thing in Canada and probably in other countries as well. It’s sad to see people to resort to such tactics but we all need to be vigilant.

Have a great week and stay safe people!

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24 thoughts on “Australian Housing Scam”

  1. Yea man… There have been many such scams (pay deposit 1st since I am overseas) for students here in Göteborg as well. Horrible people scamming students out of their money.. tsk tsk..

  2. Hey,

    thanks alot for posting this up! you saved me. I almost agreed to the transaction and would have transferred the money.

    Here is the second installment to the email, you might want to post it as a follow up to the note.

    Hello again,

    It’s $190 per week for the apartment, the rent included all utilities,Gas/Electricity/Dishwasher/Telephone/Cable/Internet/Car Park.

    You should pay first 1 month rent + BOND (1000) so the total amount will be $1760.

    In the following lines I will try to explain the procedure. You will have to send me your details (your full name and address) so I can fill out the lease agreement and start the transaction.

    I will pay for a 2 days delivery so you will receive the Keys and the contract signed by me right away.

    I will send you the signed lease agreement and the apartment keys through Express Metrix.They will send you a notification that they have received the keys and the lease. Next you will have to send the 1st month payment and the bond to the Express Metrix agent through Western Union. You will have to send the deposit information(MTCN, sender’s name and address) to Express Metrix.

    You will receive the keys and the lease from Express Metrix.You will checkout the apartment and if you like it you release the payment to me. If you don’t like it you return the keys and the unsigned lease to the Express Metrix agent and he will refund the cash you deposited.

    I think that this way we are both safe. I will pay for all the Express Metrix expenses and you will pay for all the Western Union charges. I am hoping that this is ok with you and we can close the deal.

    Best regards,

    Milda Stoehr.

    Thanks once again for the email! I hope no one else in the future gets scammed by this person!

    Chandni

  3. Hi,
    I just want to thank you for posting about this. The same scam was run in Brisbane on the exact same day through Domain.com. It was advertised as an apartment in one of the Oaks hotels in the city and when I emailed the adress I was given the EXACT same details as in the above email, the only thing different was the apartment address.
    I ALMOST went with it, even tho the dea was too good to be true but thought I’d google “Milda Stoehr” just to be sure. Thankfully I found your post! I’m reporting it to the ACCC and also emailing Domain to hopefully prevent anyone else getting sucked in.

    1. Hi,
      I have a friend who was nearly scammed by this too, I feel sorry for those unsavvy trusting people who actually do go through with these! How awful!

      Thanks for your post!

  4. OH MY GOD THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR POSTING ABOUT THIS!

    I was actually about to transfer the money tomorrow as we’ve been keeping both of us updated about sending me the lease agreement, the keys and everything. It’s AUD750 that I have to pay for the bond.

    Thank God. Am I not the only victim here? I’m in Perth by the way.

  5. Hello guys

    Thanks a lot to the person who started this topic

    I requested more information about the apartment below via domain.com.au and below is the answer I got

    It looked extremely suspicious so I tried to find the delivery company mentioned in the e-mail and then found out this is a new scam

    Hello,

    First of all I want to thank you for your reply. I really appreciate you took the time to answer me. I am the owner of the apartment located 3/3 Prowse Street, Perth, WA 6000. It is still available for rent for $260 p/w including utilities for as long as you need. The apartment is in the best conditions, it is newly furnished and equipped with all the dependencies. I bought the apartment in 2007 and I lived there with my pet until last month when I received a promotion and needed to move to Padova / Italy.

    In the apartment you will find a dishwasher, a refrigerator, a freezer, a washing machine, a dryer, an iron, , an oven, a toaster, a coffee maker, vacuum cleaner, a big screen TV, cable TV with the basic access, ADSL internet and Wi-Fi access. Also the apartment is near the public transportation, a shopping mall, a gym, and other facilities. There are no problems if you have any pets, as long as you clean up after them. The apartment has a parking space for one car. I have spent a great amount of money refurnishing the apartment and my request is that you treat it like it was your own. I am not interested to make a lot of money from the rent as I am interested to find a tenant that will take good care of the property until my return(minimum lease period, 3 months).

    My contract here in Italy expires in October 2013.

    Because I had to move to Italy so soon I didn’t had the time to find a trustworthy agent, I had to take the apartment keys with me. I had a real bad experience with the renting agents from the area with my previous home. I can’t come to show you the apartment and I don’t have any friends in the area to send the keys. I found an alternate solution in order to close the transaction safe for the both of us, it is an international delivery solution called Express Metrix (I will pay for a 2 days delivery),they will provide assistance in handling the payment and delivery of the Keys and Lease Agreement.With this procedure you will be able to check the apartment before I receive the payment.

    Let me know how this sounds to you.

    Looking forward to your answer.

    Best regards,

    Avelina.

  6. cheers for the notification and for all those who responded to it. the scam artist we almost dealt with was “avelina markum” who was promoted to a job based in italy. the apartment was also advertised on domain.com and was for $250 per week for a 2bedroom place at oaks festival tower brisbane. for ANYONE who deals with someone insisting on using “Express Metrix” DO NOT!!

    thanks

  7. I was just discussing whether to go ahead with this apartment viewing. I too thought it was suspicious and ‘googled express metrix delivery solution’ and this blog came up. I shall show you the e mail response I got from ‘avelina markum’ when I asked why the listing had been taken down from domain.com.

    Hello again,

    Because of the high price of the ad, i have removed the listing.

    Thank you for your understanding .

    It’s $330 per week for the apartment, the rent included all utilities,Gas/Electricity/Dishwasher/Telephone/Cable/Internet/Car Park.

    You should pay first 1 month rent + BOND (630) so the total amount will be $1950.

    In the following lines I will try to explain the procedure. You will have to send me your details (your full name and address) so I can fill out the lease agreement and start the transaction.

    I will pay for a 2 days delivery so you will receive the Keys and the contract signed by me right away.

    I will send you the signed lease agreement and the apartment keys through Express Metrix.They will send you a notification that they have received the keys and the lease. Next you will have to send the 1st month payment and the bond to the Express Metrix agent through Western Union. You will have to send the deposit information(MTCN, sender’s name and address) to Express Metrix.

    You will receive the keys and the lease from Express Metrix.You will checkout the apartment and if you like it you release the payment to me. If you don’t like it you return the keys and the unsigned lease to the Express Metrix agent and he will refund the cash you deposited.

    I think that this way we are both safe. I will pay for all the Express Metrix expenses and you will pay for all the Western Union charges. I am hoping that this is ok with you and we can close the deal.

    Best regards,

    Avelina

    I AM SO GLAD I DIDNT FALL FOR IT.

  8. I just want to thank you immensely for posting this. My sister and her friend were in the process of exchanging emails with this “vendor” and would have proceeded with the transfer of funds if it weren’t for this post! My sister was wary and Googled “Express Metrix”, but was not deterred enough by the lack of information on the company in the search results. I dug a little deeper and found your post, and you’ve saved a couple of young ladies (and probably many many more people to come!) a lot of anguish.

    It means a lot that you were able to nip this in the bud

  9. as did we….

    this is a major scam!!!
    they almost done it with me and my husband too.

    good thing that there are true people like you that post those things on the web. thank god for Google!

    now she use the name Avelina. trying to lees York street no.2 in Sydney.

    hope this post will prevent anyone from giving them any money.

  10. definately saved me!.. we rang up ‘express metrix’ and apparently they had 25 people ring up in one day to suss them out! they must be scamming millions hopefully noone ends up transferring the money we got very close even apparently have the keys on the way
    .. and hopefully they dont use our names or address for anything!
    thanku for all posting or i might have not come across this and lost my money!

  11. I saw the York street one as well. Emailed the bitch back and had a dig at them. Not before reporting the email address to the accc and notifying domain of the issue

  12. Thank you so much for this blog. I was also going to transfer money to an Avelina Markum for an apartment on 299 Queen St, Melbourne.
    She sent the same initial email and we had been in correspondence until I began to question the transaction. I am very disappointed that there are people out there like this who try to cheat others.
    I did a search on the Express Metrix business and all I found was the link she gave me. There was no information on them in the italian yellow pages which confirmed my suspicions.
    expressmlogistics.com = dodgy!!

    1. hi adrian i just get the exactly what happen to you and i lost $3,720.00 and i just rang up to domain.com.au
      i think you need to rang up to the domain.com.au
      and reportly to the police station. i hope we are the last one no more people will get scam. they are to evil. taking people moey like that. i know i you feel couse i got the same feel with how you feel.
      i will report by today. i know money will never back anymore but at least more people report the police will do some action or whatever they can do their best for us. they are targeting australia.
      i hope you will report to domain.com.au just ring them and very quick to answered i just wait for 1 min they answer me already. here domain.com.au phone 1300 799 109
      at least more people report to their company they will do something as well for their reputation and for future they will have better security as well.

  13. Hi,
    I would like to talk to other People who have lost there money to this Avelina/Express Metrix as my Daughter has lost $4000.00 last week in regards to the Queen st Apartment.

    1. hi adrian i just get the exactly what happen to you and i lost $3,720.00 and i just rang up to domain.com.au
      i think you need to rang up to the domain.com.au
      and reportly to the police station. i hope we are the last one no more people will get scam. they are to evil. taking people moey like that. i know i you feel couse i got the same feel with how you feel.
      i will report by today. i know money will never back anymore but at least more people report the police will do some action or whatever they can do their best for us. they are targeting australia.
      i hope you will report to domain.com.au just ring them and very quick to answered i just wait for 1 min they answer me already. here domain.com.au phone 1300 799 109
      at least more people report to their company they will do something as well for their reputation and for future they will have better security as well.

      1. Hi Julie,
        We have reported it to the Police, along with other Agencys but I feel Domain should be held responsible and compensate the people involved. We have rang them up and they dont really care about the scam and offer no support what so ever. I have spoken to various Legal People and they have advised us to form a class action, let me know your thougths.
        Regards
        Adrian

  14. Thankyou for the warning on house scamming I was researching the Metrix Express Agency when I found your notice. Corresspondence with Olinda Nottage of padova/Italy had been made and I received with the same identical information to what you and others are describing, so I thankyou again for taking the time and effort to help protect others from unscrupulous people who have no moral values and do not care for the trauma they can inflict on innoncent people trying to do the right thing.

    Regards
    Vicki

    1. Thank you for the warning. It was too good to be true and I nearly became a victom to this scam. I received exactly the same letter from Olinda and I am so grateful that I searched more and amazing having a computor to search and find the information, the keys are meant to be arriving and the lease to sign. I difinately will not be going through with this. These people should be caught and put away. I do feel sorry for the ones that have gone through with it.

      Regards
      Lois

  15. you did really save me!
    Olinda Nottage was about to get my money too! In Brisbane, through the site domain.com.au.
    As soon as someone sends an email, the ads disappears!
    I did browse the society but nothing appeared!
    Great mate you are great!

  16. I received a similar reply to our enquiries re apartments in Auckland NZ and Melbourne Australia – who rents an apartment but carries their keys when they leave the country??? Sounded fishy to me, so we didn’t follow up. I think we need to report these scams!

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