Cancer patient victimised by rental scammers
IF BATTLING cervical cancer wasn't tough enough for a single mother of three, Kerrie Kowalski has been dealt a bitter blow by scammers.
The Struck Oil woman, was offered her dream rental house at Gracemere with a good price offered by someone who appeared to be a "kindly stranger".
Kerrie, 42, needed to move to Gracemere so her 88-year-old mother could look after her girls, aged eight and 11. "Mum offered to look after the kids while I'm in Brisbane for chemo for six weeks," she said.
Kerrie said she was desperate to find a house with acreage for her horses but couldn't afford anything over $300 a week.
"I can't afford the place I live in now, I'm paying $450 a week and I'm only on a carer's pension," she said.
"After bills I only have 80 or 90 dollars a week to live on."
Kerrie said a stranger who went by the name of Amazing Grace approached her over email to ask if she wanted to rent a property in Gracemere.
"The lady said she wanted to help and told me I could rent her house for $300 but she would pay utilities," Kerrie said.
"About 90 emails between the lady and myself were sent in attempts to organise a rental agreement."
Kerrie said after the rental agreement was arranged the "kind stranger" began acting suspiciously.
"She wouldn't give me a last name or phone number but she finally gave me a name and number, but it was all fake," she said.
"I called the neighbour who lived next to the house we were supposed to rent and he said the lady didn't live there or own the house."
Kerrie was only days away from paying a month's rent in advance when she discovered she had been scammed.
"I was devastated, I was about to put $1800 into the lady's account yesterday morning," she said.
"We have already packed up the house and now we have to pay two weeks' rent at our current house or we're out on the street."
Kerrie's mum had even taken out a loan to try and help find and secure a rental house while Kerrie's daughter contributed her car repair money.
She said she contacted the real estate to ask the real owners of the house if they would be willing to drop the price of the rent while she was in Brisbane.
"They would only drop to $480 from $500," she said.
Kerrie said she doesn't know if her daughters will cope as the family had never been apart for so long or if the youngest girls would even receive Christmas presents this year.
"You need a fortune to live… I have no money to go down with and my treatment starts on the 19th of this month but I leave on the 16th," she said.
"I won't have a vehicle in Brisbane and I can't afford public transport so I will have to walk 15 minutes to the hospital and 15 minutes back after chemo."
Kerrie said some of her treatment was covered but there was so much which wasn't.
"I have no choice, I have to live for my family and the doctors say it's curable but I may need even more treatment," she said.