Popular lifestyle blogger Constance Hall has revealed she lost thousands of dollars in savings in a rental scam.
The WA-based mother of five – who blogs about parenting, fashion, body image and beauty – took to Facebook to reveal she had been robbed of her life savings as she searched for a new lease.
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Hall lived in her mother’s house with her children, while her husband Denim Cooke lived separately after a motorcycle accident.
“Officially the worst school holidays ever,” the 38-year-old wrote.
“I saved money to have our own rental, just a six-month lease before fully accommodating our stay at Mum’s.
“I decided to look at the properties that had been online the longest, hoping to increase my chances.
“And here it is, a beautiful house with swimming pool and garden and four furnished bedrooms, available only for four months, perfect.”
Hall said she applied for the rental through a real estate application and was approved, then asked to post a deposit and four weeks rent to secure the property.
“It was a lot of money,” Hall wrote.
“I emptied my savings account and part of last week’s salary, it’s a big success for the school holidays.
“But I thought how excited the kids will be when I tell them it’s going to be like a vacation in itself.”
“I felt stupid”
She paid the money – then got a call from her real estate agent saying they had been hacked and the money was gone.
“At first I felt stupid, how could I let that happen? she wrote, before adding, “This literally could have happened to anyone desperate to get a rental.”
“After three hours of waiting, my bank told me that the chances of my funds being recovered were slim due to the nature of the scam…and that I had to go to the police.
“Police told me I had to cyber report online but warned they were unlikely to recover the funds.
“The estate agent maintained that they could not do anything, but assured me that their emails were again secure.”
Hall said her bank’s fraud department got back to her and told her that of the thousands she had transferred, he was only able to recover $7.57.
“That’s it – all my savings were wiped out,” she said.
“The kids are devastated, we’ve had a vacation like *** because mom is broke and can’t even ask for more.”
Hall said she had always struggled to save money and was proud of the fact that she was able to save for a rental deposit – only to have it all taken out in a scam.
“To have it all stolen in an instant and for the reality now to sink in that she is not being recovered was incredibly unfair,” she wrote.
“And it made me think of other single mothers, mothers who don’t have their mother to rely on or the career that that [blog] next blessed me with.
“It is by no means a pity party. I am in a better financial position than many, many people, and for that I remain grateful and must look back.
“And I also wanted to warn anyone else who is considering a rental or deposit for a home – even if you’ve already communicated on the exact same email thread, it can’t hurt to call them and make sure it’s still them before you do anything.
Scams on the rise
Hall’s loss comes after another Western Australian woman lost more than $732,000 in savings to a property scam after responding to a fake email.
The woman was in the process of buying a property in April when she received an email from someone she thought was her settlement agent.
The email had sent authentic-looking documents and asked him to deposit the money in a bank account before settlement.
The message came via a generic hotmail email address that used the agency’s name.
It was only when the real settlement agent reminded the buyers to make payment before making the final inspection of the property that the scam was discovered.
At that point, it was too late.
After Hall’s post about the scam, concerned followers opened a GoFundMe account to raise money for her.
But Hall said she didn’t want that to happen.
“You’re so kind, but please don’t do anything like that – I really meant it when I said I did it so well, and your kind gestures will go the extra mile for yourselves or others. people in need,” she wrote.
“I’m going to get over it very soon and everything happens for a reason. I’m sure something amazing is around the corner.
“I love you warm hearts xx.”
Hall’s career as an influencer has given her the opportunity to launch her own online store, and she is set to open her first physical retail space in Fremantle on Friday.
It is unclear in the recent scam will delay the opening of the store.
Speaking about the rise in property scams, WA’s executive director of consumer protection, Trish Blake, told 7NEWS.com.au in May that consumers should be wary of any email asking for payment or advising of a change in bank details to know where the payments should be. shipped.
“These scams usually involve hacking into someone’s email account or computer system, but it can be difficult to determine exactly where the hack happened,” she said.
“The losses from these scams can be extremely devastating for victims, who may have lost their security deposit that they have been saving for many years and not be able to buy their dream home.”
Australians are reminded to verify the sender of emails, be suspicious if the message is from a generic email service provider such as Gmail or Hotmail, and set up multi-factor authentication on all online accounts.
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