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Help! Is There Any Way Around This?

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CokeTulip | 21:41 Mon 16th Dec 2013 | Law
23 Answers
Any ideas/ advice welcomed (I realise - with hindsight and everything we may all have done things differently)
Its abit long (so sorry) this but need to explain situation..

Last week I noticed a distressed African woman (20's) at a City Railway station (very late at night) - well dressed if unsuitably. She looked really down. Asked her if she was OK -she said she had a problem but nothing she can do.

Told me the week before that she had left Uni (gave up her course as not working out) and was planning to return home to Africa and everything arranged just waiting for money from home that day or at the latest the day after so she can buy her ticket. She had moved out of accommodation as this was planned and she was prepared then to go straight to the airport from the station.

So she takes all her belongings to the railway station luggage office (3 bags) expecting them to be there for no more than 2 days. Its something like £7/day/bag.

She stayed in a hotel for a couple of nights expecting her funds to come through. After the third day she realises there is a problem and (for whatever reason) no funds yet. She had to move out of the hotel as no money to stay there any longer. She has got in touch with mum who supposedly trying to get things to her asap and very worried about her but no problems - being sent. (I have no idea what the delay is but she chased a few times). She is now homeless but Uni (in the circs) put her in emergency accommodation as she has been studying there.

She then goes back to the luggage office to explain the problem (3rd day) and they tell her they have no interest in her or her personal circumstances and pay the money or no bags. (She wanted to move them to a friend's or Uni so no more charges or get them to at least freeze charges but they wanted a significant amount of money to do a deal with her - she has no money so cant even bargain with them ).

Aswell as this they tell her now that she is lucky they weren't charging her for six bags as they tied 3 very small bags together as one and that she had mislaid her original ticket and they should be penalising her for that too!)
She visited less than a week after and bill is now £120. (There is no need for them to threaten extra charging and I find this completely awful) She has been in the same clothes since she handed the bags in and it is obvious. I went with her to talk to them and they dont want to know.

They tell her that she cant take anything out of the bags either and besides they have now moved them to storage as not collected and no way. She has no clothes or anything and all her documentation is in the bags - birth certs /passport etc. She knows that when funds arrive she may not have all the money to pay to get the bags out as costs are excalating daily and its well over £200 now.

No management available and staff say they are told by management to have no interest. She has written to the manager explaining the circumstances but so far - still the same story.

OK - they are a business and of course you expect them to charge but I feel they are being inflexible here knowing she is completely stuck and in distress and wonder what you're take might be on this and if you can think of a way that will help her.

Is there anything she can do if they turn around and say she owes £400 +
(If she cant afford to pay - she cant get her docs to travel - she is not working so cant afford to stay in the UK)

I think they could have perhaps frozen charges after the third day and let her take out some essential things - they still have her bags as security but no. I dont think they are going to budge either.

What can she do? .

Thanks in advance.



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Question Author
Thats interesting VHG..

When a story isn't adding up, when you are in front of someone you dont think "scam" straight away. And like this woman you just feel abit protective.

(Seemingly its easier to scam a person who has been scammed before --particularly ref insurance scams) and they do target compassionate types, greedy types - there is a list depending on the type of scam.

(I think when people have had a few drinks aswell they can be a target as off-guard & when at this time of year - getting trains home late, in a good mood etc).

I do think it was a long-game scam with this person.

Anyway - I have to say I'm very impressed with police. Rang me back mid-day and went over everything again. Took extra info and have circulated it to all. Going to monitor closely and see what happens. Have a hunch she is not using her correct name. No crime has been committed but were so pleased I rang as they need this information badly- alot of people too embarassed to ring them so scammers never get caught. They said that they can search her bags while in storage to check her identity should they have any serious concerns but paperwork needed to do this officially. They can also help her.

Which Consumers have v helpful info on reporting scams (I've lost the link but will attach later).

Question Author
Asking around the station can sometimes give you an idea as station staff are likely to know some of the more common con-artists/beggars.

There are some round here, same or similar story every time and there are people asking around for ticket fare money and such a lot. Regulars are likely to be known.

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