Burqa bandit in rent scam

2010-06-03 00:00

A WOMAN posing as an agent for Natal Property has scammed four people out of around R18 000 in the past week.

Dressed in a burqa and using the name “Shaida Dramat”, she approached Natal Property tenants whose leases were about to end, and told them she would be bringing new tenants to view the apartments.

She even placed small classifieds in The Witness last week advertising the properties.

Natal Property suspects she came to the office and asked which of their apartments were available to rent before placing the classified adverts.

No one is able to identify her, as she was completely covered. However, she was described as having “light” eyes and a Cape accent.

“I phoned the number last week Thursday in response to the advert in the paper,” said a woman who lost R3 500 in the scam. “We made an appointment to meet that same day to look at the apartment.

“The tenant who lived there opened up for us; she also thought Shaida was from Natal Property. She showed me around, and I said I would take it if it was repainted, and she agreed she would get someone to paint the place — it was all lies,” said the woman.

The following day, Dramat met the woman at her home and handed her an authentic-looking lease to sign.

“She took me through the whole thing. We signed and initialled and did everything,” she said. “Then I paid her a deposit of R3 500 in cash, and she told me I could move in on Sunday and that she would get the keys to me before.”

On Saturday, the woman tried to contact Dramat. At first, Dramat answered her phone, saying she was in Richards Bay and would drop the keys off later in the day. Thereafter, the woman was unable to contact her. She had switched off her phone.

On Monday, the woman went to the Natal Property office requesting a key for the apartment.

It was there she was informed that the company had no dealings with or knowledge of a Shaida Dramat, and that the apartment in question had already been leased to another person.

“But they are being very good to me, helping me find a new place and trying to figure out what happened,” she said.

Natal Property’s Lorna Campbell said that as they began investigating the issue, they discovered Dramat had “leased” the same apartment to three different people before making off with their money.

“We became aware of a problem when a tenant came into our offices requesting keys for a flat that we rent out on behalf of the owners. We had already rented out the property, and on requesting a copy of her lease agreement, we were given a copy of the fraudulent lease agreements,” she said.

“We then had two other tenants that were rented the same flat, and one another flat we rent out in town.”

Dramat apparently met with her targets in public places like St Anne’s Hospital and MacDonald’s in town. There, they signed the leases and parted with deposits.

Missy Roberts now finds herself homeless after Dramat made off with her money. “I gave notice to my old landlord and used all my money to pay a R4 000 deposit and first month’s rent up front, now she has disappeared with my money and I have nowhere to go.”

Dramat even issued Roberts a receipt for the R4 000.

“We have been to the police and there are lawyers investigating, and I hope she is found. She thinks she is clever, but no one is above the law,” said Roberts.

Campbell warned tenants to request identification from people who claim to be property agents.

“If a person who claims to be a rental consultant makes an appointment with an outgoing tenant to bring prospective tenants to view the property, there is no harm in them asking the rental agent to produce their official business card,” she said.

The case is being investigated.

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