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Flatmate wanted scams: how to protect yourself

Find out what the flatmate wanted scam is and how to protect yourself from it, so you're not left out of pocket.

By Trust and Safety 1 September 2023

It's hard enough finding a decent flatmate who doesn't drive you crazy, and now you've got fraudsters to contend with.

Sometimes, scammers posing as wannabe flatmates reach out on flatmate wanted listings, trying to recruit money mules to help them transfer stolen money around the globe.


How the scam works:

  • The existing flatmate is contacted by the scammer who offers to pay bond immediately.
  • The scammer will explain why they can't meet to view the room. For example, they may be overseas finishing medical school or are out of town for the summer.
  • They pay quickly, but it's too much. This payment is often made with stolen credit cards or a compromised bank account that the scammer has fraudulently gained access to.
  • The flatmate is asked to repay the overpayment via Western Union, PayPal, Moneygram, or another overseas payment service.
  • The banks catch onto the original payment being dodgy, and reverse it from the existing flatmate's account.
  • The existing flatmate is left out of pocket – and is still looking for a flatmate.

If you're looking for a flatmate:

  • Meet them in person. After all, you do have to live with them. Plus the scammers can't meet you as they are based offshore.
  • Never hand out any personal documents until you meet them, such as tenancy documents.
  • Never, ever send money offshore, or via Western Union.
  • If you've been overpaid, contact your bank and ask them to review the transaction before you do anything.
  • If you're suspicious of an applicant, contact us immediately.

Remember, Western Union and Trade Me is a bad combination.


Trust and Safety
Trust and Safety