The Maastricht police are warning against rooms-for-rent sites offering rooms that they do not actually have. The swindlers ask potential tenants to transfer a deposit and are subsequently never heard from again. Most of the victims are foreign students. The police reported seven cases in the first week of September.
Dedicated student police officer Paul Vermin tells one of their stories. “An English guy came here to study at the university. He desperately needed somewhere to live, so he signed up at www.erasmate.com, a website where people can post advertisements if they are looking for a room. The next day, he received an e-mail in which he was offered a room, close to the university. He was sent a tenancy agreement by e-mail and told to transfer €843 to the Western Union Money Transfer bank – a bank that is regularly involved in shady transactions, also in other cases being investigated by the police. After that, heard nothing from the woman with whom he had been in contact. Not trusting matters, he googled her e-mail address and found out that it been used in other fraud cases.”
Vermin is calling upon students who have also been a victim of fraudulent rooms-for-rent sites to file a complaint. “By doing so, we can make a stronger case.” He also advises students to never transfer money for a room they have not seen and to use the official channels, such as the university’s Maastricht Housing, when they want to rent a room.