Internationals targeted in housing scam
Police agent Matthijs Beukema says that two police reports were submitted in August – one on 2 August and one on 18 August – by international students who came to the cops after being taken advantage of by a person calling herself Ms. Williams. The same name was given in both of the police reports.
Both students were seeking a room in Groningen, and the person who took their money was offering a room that did not exist. In one case, a student was asked to transfer cash directly to a bank account based in the United Kingdom, but the other transaction occurred in person.
The second student was actually shown a furnished room in Groningen and was told to make a security deposit and to pay one month’s rent, which added up to 700 euros. It turned out that the room was already taken, however.
The person initially came into contact with both students via Facebook. ‘We only have a name, and it’s not likely to be this person’s real name. That means that we don’t even officially have a suspect’, Beukema says. He also says that the possibility exists that more students have been victims than only those who have filed a police report.
Beukema urges students not to pay in cash for a room and to use services such as SSH or a real estate agent, and calls for the universities to be pro-active in informing students about how to avoid being scammed.
Correction: The name given on both police reports was Williams, not Wit. The article has been updated to reflect this.