First came a rental scam, then a Tokoroa couple’s bank account was emptied, but now humanity has come to the rescue.
Offers of financial help from strangers who read Stuff‘s story has “shocked” the Tokoroa family tricked into paying a deposit for a rental that was not available.
“We don’t even know the words to say thank you. We’ve never had this generosity before,” scam victim Ben Galley said.
“It makes you feel like there are still decent people out there.”
* First came the house scam, then fraudsters cleaned out the family’s bank account
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They’d had a tough year and found what they thought was the perfect home after posting on Facebook – but it turned out to be too good to be true.
Galley’s troubles started with a house hunt for him, partner Alice Lennon, 18-month-old Abel, and 8-year-old Skyla-Rose, as the owners of his current rental were selling.
They’d had a tough year and thought they’d found the perfect home thanks to a Facebook post.
Galley filled out a tenancy agreement with personal details; sent copies of his license, bank statements and his partner’s birth certificate; and paid $100 to reserve the property before realizing it was a scam.
They were gutted, but prepared to write it off and said “we won’t be so dumb next time”.
But almost two weeks later, on Wednesday, Galley woke up to find his savings account cleared out, his $360 Work and Income sickness benefit gone.
The bank told Galley someone impersonating him had transferred the money out.
The bank froze his account, and launched a fraud investigation. The police are also investigating.
“We thought it was over after the $100. We thought we warned the bank enough. It’s really gutted me,” he said.
Then, strangers who read about the couple’s plight came to the rescue.
One woman said “it really sucks out there at the moment” – whether it was inflation, rising interest rates, the cost of living, or petrol.
“Being a young family trying to find a rental just adds to the pile,” she said. “My husband and I would really like to give the couple a bit of a gift just to help out in the smallest of ways.”
Patrick Gower explores the rise of internet scams (video first published in September).
The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, transferred $1200 to their account.
“I know they didn’t ask for it, but you know what?……it’s hard out there, and we just wanted to encourage them – and let them know we’re cheering them on.”
She said “not all people are s…” and maybe one day the couple could help someone else who might need reminding there are good people out there.
“Kindness spreads. I think the world needs more of that these days.”
Michael, who did not want to give his last name, said the family photograph on the front steps reminded him of his own experiences.
“I could wind the clock back decades to another young couple who were just starting married life and how tough things were for us financially back then with every dollar counting.”
The man, from South Auckland, said they were fortunate to have their own home and mortgage, but every dollar counted and there wasn’t much left over at the end of the week.
He’d looked at the buy and sell section of Facebook before and said it was hard to work out what was real and what wasn’t.
“They appeared to do all the right things and certainly did not deserve the end result,” he said.
He no longer worked, but wanted to pass on $150 to help ease the disappointment.
A third man, also wanting to remain anonymous, contacted Stuff with an offer of $1000.
Galley was shocked and speechless. “Are you serious?” he asked. “I don’t know what to say. I’m gobsmacked.”
“That’s a huge amount to us. That will help us out with everything. That’s like rent and food for a few weeks.
He’d wanted to warn others about this type of scam and said the kindness of strangers and offers of help was unexpected.
But they were incredibly grateful, and thrilled that rent and groceries could be paid for without stress for a few weeks.
“When the world is against you, there are people out there that want to help. It’s shocking to us,” Galley said.