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A word to the wise

March 20, 2010

The big move is days away and I’m busy packing, arranging, editing resumes and cover letters, and spending time with family. And of course looking online at jobs and apartments. I thought I’d make mention of a little experience we had while apartment hunting.

I’ve been looking on a number of different sites for apartments, including domain.com.au, Gumtree, and Craigslist. In the process I can across some apartments that seemed good and some that simply seemed too good to be true. I sent out emails to all the ones that sounded promising, and got one email back on a “too good to be true”-r. The apartment owner called himself Rev, said he had been transferred to the UK, where his wife currently was (with the keys to the apartment with her) and I should email her to work out details. I emailed with her as well, both their emails were similar. They sent me the same pictures of a very nice looking apartment, the emails were written in pretty poor English and emphasized how they just really wanted someone honest and trustworthy to take care of their apartment. They even went so far as to give us a specific address and to tell us that they would call and that they might even drop in on us for visits once we were living in the apartment.

I admit there were a few things that seemed a little off to me (and of course you have to be extra weary of anything you find on Craigslist), but it also sounded so awesome, and generally sincere, that I started to get a bit excited about it all. However, then the wife sent us an “application” to fill out, after which she said we would work out how to pay and receive the keys. Most of the application was basic, names, occupations, religion and marriage status, the most personal things being current address and phone number, but at the end it asked for a photocopy of passport or international drivers license.

We felt a little bit uncomfortable and unsure about that, and of course had some weird feelings about the whole thing in general, especially the exchanging of payment for keys coming from the UK. Oscar did a little searching online and soon started to find stories of other people who had emailed with a “Rev” about an apartment in Australia. The scam was blown open! Oscar even found a story of a guy who went all the way through the process, paying the renters and getting the keys, only to go to the apartment and find that the keys didn’t match! I immediately went back to Craigslist and flagged the ad. Just a couple days later I got an email response from another ad I had replied to that was still inexpensive but very different from the other ad. It was again from a “Rev” with almost an exact replica of the other email I’d originally gotten, replaced with different names and locations of himself and his wife! Obviously they’re email scamming so many people they don’t even realize when they’re emailing the same story on a different apartment to the same email address! So of course I went and flagged that ad also.

While I’ve emailed a number of people in response to their ads, I’ve received no other emails back. Of course we would never agree to anything without an apartment inspection, and it will be much easier to call up renters and visit apartments once we’re in Sydney, but it certainly would have been nice to arrive knowing we had a place to live!

For now there’s not much else we can do. As soon as we land in Australia, though, we will be quick to get mobile numbers and TFNs (tax file numbers) set up so we can get started to applying to jobs, which will make getting an apartment that much easier.

Well I’m off to check more things off my to-do list, like emailing my old references to make sure they still don’t mind being contacted by potential employers (and still remember me!) and figuring out how to fit a year’s worth of stuff (including a variety of work clothes) in one suitcase and one backpack. Yikes!

I’ll update again once I’m in the mix of things on the flip side.

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