Rentals scam


Nigerian conman tries to cheat couple out of cash

Doug MacGillivray of Resort Property Rentals was “astonished” when a woman contacted him to say she’d been offered one of his firm’s flats for lease by a man from Africa posing as the owner.

The scamster had answered an advert posted on the Gumtree website recently by Argentinian cleaner Sofia Fernandez Alonso, who was looking for rental digs in Queenstown with her boyfriend.

The faceless swindler wanted $720 – supposedly a month’s rent – to be paid upfront for a two-bedroom apartment in Fryer Street.

Resort Rentals had the place listed at $340 a week.

The conman even sent Alonso a picture of the property – believed to be ripped-off from the official Resorts Rental website – and told her to have a look from the outside as he was working overseas and had the keys.
Alonso, 26, and French partner Steven Patrosso, 23, were almost taken in but became suspicious after constant demands for cash.

They pulled out of the bogus deal two weeks ago after seeing the same apartment being advertised by Resort Rentals.

“I couldn’t believe it when Sofia told me what was going on,” MacGillivray says.

“I’ve been in this business for 15 years and have never heard anything like it.

“It’s a scam.

“We look after the Fryer St property and it certainly isn’t owned by anyone from Africa.”
The fraudster – calling himself Jackson Green – emailed Alonso to say his flat in Queens­town was available but he was working in Lagos, Nigeria.

He’d get the keys couriered to her if she sent him four weeks’ rent by international money transfer.
“I thought it was for real,” Alonso says.

“I went round to Fryer St for a look and was very interested.

“I nearly gave him $300 as we [were] desperate for accommodation and staying in a friend’s living room.
“But when he kept asking for money, I knew something was wrong and stopped all contact.”

Alonso adds: “I didn’t think things like this happened in New Zealand and I want others to know that this person is out there.”

Queenstown police say it’s the first they’ve heard of the ruse in the resort but there’s little they can do if the offender lives abroad.

And international courier company DHL Express, which Green claimed to be using to transport keys and documents from Lagos to Queenstown, warns people to check with them first.

“We have been made aware of a similar case in Australia recently when we were implicated as the company that would deliver keys when that wasn’t the case,” a Sydney-based DHL spokeswoman says.

“We would advise anyone who receives a notification that they doubt the authenticity of to contact our customer services depart­­­-ment immediately to have it verified.”




A Queenstown letting agent is warning of a rental scam that’s hit town – after a couple was almost sucked in by an internet con.