UK couple’s close shave after ‘Scene’ story
A Mountain Scene story has helped a Queenstown-bound English couple narrowly escape being sucked into a new rental scam.
London-based schoolteacher Ania Butler and partner Tom Page were contacted by a conman from China earlier this month, claiming he’d lease them his apartment in Bowen Street.
The fraudster answered an advert the couple posted on the website virtualrealty.co.nz, looking for long-term digs in the resort.
Butler even sent $NZ720 upfront – supposedly a month’s rent – to the faceless swindler in Shanghai via a Western Union money transfer.
But she became suspicious after finding online a Mountain Scene story – published on July 30 – that exposed a similar ruse being operated in the resort by a scamster from Nigeria.
“When I realised it was the same scenario I knew I’d been done,” Butler, 24, says.
“I then discovered the same property was being offered by Southern Lakes Rentals in Queenstown for $300 a week instead of the $180 this guy wanted.
“He’d copied pictures from the Queenstown company’s website and sent them to me pretending it was his house.
“He said he was working in China and that’s why his place was available.”
Butler managed to cancel her Western Union payment – but the cheeky scamster, going by the name of Alexander Dotun Aderiye, then phoned and demanded to know why he hadn’t received the cash.
He’d promised to send keys for the two-bedroom Bowen St unit to London by DHL international courier as soon as he’d got his deposit.
“When I told him I knew what he was doing, he hung up,” Butler says. “We’re coming to Queenstown in a couple of weeks’ time to look for work and I’m gutted at almost falling for the scam.”
Resort letting agents Southern Lakes confirm the Bowen St property is on their books.
“We are extremely disappointed that photos and information has been taken from our website and used in this way,” marketing boss Sue Charlesworth says.
“The security and integrity of the properties we rent and their owners is our priority.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation for these potential tenants.”
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