When Chanuki Bavington found what looked like the perfect flat to rent she was delighted and relieved. After living in supported accommodation and recovering from health problems, she longed for her own place.
The offer of the one-bedroom flat in Exeter had come after she placed an advert on Gumtree asking for benefit-friendly landlords. However, the landlady said she lived in Coventry and couldn’t get the time off work to show Bavington around. “She said she’d had time-wasters in the past,” says Bavington. “We spoke at length, and her story seemed valid.” Bavington transferred £500 to the woman’s account, but several weeks later the 28-year-old was devastated to learn she had fallen for a scam.
Her experience is far from unique. Latest figures show an increasing number of people are being scammed by fraudsters taking advantage of a highly competitive rental market