A young couple eager to move into their first home together realised they had been scammed out of £800 after they found a 99-year-old man living in the property.
Amy Da Cruz, 22, and boyfriend Matthew Morgan, 26, from Bridgend, fell victim to the scam after a man claiming to be a landlord approached them on Gumtree.
The couple had put out an advert looking for a house to rent on the site through Amy's mum and were excited when a property owner contacted them on WhatsApp.
Matthew and Amy were then sent pictures of the property, which had large bedrooms, a driveway, a kitchen and a garden.
The couple said they were “really excited about the house” and “were really keen” to move in but before they could look round the property, the landlord said he needed a security deposit in advance.
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Amy told Wales Online: "We started talking to the landlord on WhatsApp and got really excited about the house.
"We were sent pictures of the inside and it seemed to have large bedrooms, a driveway, a big kitchen and the garden, so we were really keen.
"We really wanted the house. So we paid £300 in two payments on the understanding that we would get the money back if we didn't like the house.”
On the day the couple were meant to move in, the landlord asked them for a further £500 as the first month’s rent.
The couple agreed, and transferred the money, but when they went to the house, they found the house was occupied by its owner – a 99-year-old man.
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Amy said: "All of the emails and texts mentioned his solicitor and we had seen a copy of the tenancy agreement, so we had no reason to believe that something wasn't right.
"I emailed the landlord straight away asking what was going on.
"They emailed back saying that they had injured their foot and that they would meet us the next day. We knew something was up. I asked for the money back, but have not heard from them since.
"We will never do something like this again.
"From now on we will only go through property management companies and never give money over before. We had our heart set on this place, we thought this would be our family home."
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Frank Ballinger has lived at the property in Brackla for around 30 years and said he was “confused” when the couple showed up.
He said: “The couple came here one afternoon and they said that they were here to look at the house.
“I was confused at first, I said to them 'are you sure it's not the number across the road' as there's a couple of houses up for rent in the street.
“They were adamant that it was this house. I was just confused as to what was going on as I knew that I hadn't put this house up for sale.
"I just told them that this house belongs to me. At first I had my suspicions that I was being scammed.
"Hopefully the person who is behind this scam is found.”
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