Young family caught by scam now in crisis accommodation
A PREGNANT mum and her family have been forced into crisis accommodation after an online scam left them homeless.
Candice Arrowsmith posted an ad online seeking accommodation for her growing family, and was contacted by a stranger offering a cheap, four-bedroom home in Hervey Bay.
"The woman said she was living here when she bought the house but she and her husband were doctors and had been posted to Malaysia with the Malaysian AIDS Council," Ms Chard said.
"She said she wanted to lease the house for two years."
The woman sent Candice photos of the house she claimed to own, made repeated telephone conversations and emails, and even posted out contracts for Candice to sign.
Candice, who is pregnant with her second child, arranged to deposit $1300 into the woman's bank account for bond and one week's rent.
In exchange the stranger would send Candice the keys to a Kawungan home.
But she never did.
The woman was a scammer, preying on Ms Arrowsmith, her partner Corey Barton and their infant son, Tyson.
As a result, the young family is now forced to stay in crisis housing with Candice's mother, Karen Chard.
The scammer sounded legitimate, explained Ms Chard, who had also corresponded with her.
Ms Chard asked her father to use his real estate contacts to check out the property, but when he came back with the bad news it was too late - the money had already been deposited.
Afterwards, the family did a Google search on the woman's phone number and a scam warning came up.
They discovered the same lady had begun calling herself "Candice" and had scammed another prospective tenant.
The family also found out the photos they had been sent were stolen from a local real estate website.
Ms Chard has taken her complaint to the police and the Office of Fair Trading.
She has also taken up with the Australian Federal Police and launched a dispute with her bank.
"We might get the money back in three months, but we night not," she said.
"We just want to warn people these scammers are out there."