FOUR women have fallen victim to a fake landlord leaving them thousands of pounds out of pocket and homeless.
They spotted the advert for the flat in Albert Road, Southsea, above an empty Chinese takeaway, on Facebook and Gumtree.
I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I have nowhere else to goFrances Newton
Laura Edwards, Frances Newton, and Elysia Gillain, plus a fourth woman who does not wish to be named, handed the cash over to a man – who unbeknownst to them had given each of them a different name – claiming to be the landlord.
The women, who did not know each other, moved in on January 12.
But hours later the real landlord, Weideng Wang, who bought the flat and shop downstairs on January 7, turned up asking what they were doing in his property.
The fake landlord had, in fact, been a workman who had a key because he had been decorating the flat. He has not been seen since.
All the women were told to move out with 20-year-old Miss Gillain having to stay with friends in Wales as she has nowhere else to go.
Miss Newton, 33, is the only one remaining. She says if she leaves she will be homeless. Mr Wang is now taking court action to evict her.
Miss Newton said: ‘I was homeless and on the streets and my family gave me £900 for the deposit.
‘This was the chance of a home for me. I thought this was going to be the place I would live for the rest of my life.
‘But the real landlord came in and said “What the hell are you doing in my flat?”. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I have nowhere else to go.
‘This was the only place I could find to live. I want to warn other people not to fall for this. I don’t want anyone else to go through this.’
Miss Gillain’s mother Shirley said: ‘The fact that someone could rip off ladies like that is disgusting.
‘We really struggled together to get the deposit and now all the money has gone and Elysia has nowhere to live.’
Speaking to The News, Mr Wang said he is also a victim and is being forced to shell out hundreds of pounds to try to evict Miss Newton.
He said: ‘I have only just bought the flat and already I have lost a lot of money.
‘I will have to spend even more going to court to get an order to remove Frances. It could take months.’
Portsmouth City Council said one of the victims has approached the authority asking for help and they have warned other people looking to rent properties to use the council’s Landlord Accreditation Scheme at las.portsmouth.gov.uk.
Hampshire Constabulary said it is investigating whether a criminal offence has taken place.