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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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Get police involved
i would be suspicious. She could ask well-meaning mugs for the money, and they will give it to her.
call me old, nasty and cynical, but i don't believe a word of it.
Question Author
Thanks for the concern... don't worry I'm not losing anything (luckily I dont have anything to lose so no big deal) and I wouldn't have listened to her if I didn't want to. I do read those stories aswell by the way!

(If it sounds like some kind of a con then I'd be disappointed if it was as things checked out and she seemed genuine but dont you find "life" is a risk..correction con most of the time) - the only thing that didn't add up to me was the delay in funds getting to her and there may be another explanation and I don't need to know - do I, so we'll see.

Sounds like a scam to me.

These type of scams, "lost" people at railways stations, is a well known scam by people from Nigeria and other African countries.
Question Author
VHG - If it is a scam it isn't going anywhere!

...and never mind railway stations VHG - look what happens to us when we pass through a bank and encounter the bank manager.

If you do think of a solution to the luggage prob (save for her to pay the full fee) - come back to me as whatever about her intentions - I dont think anyone would like to be without their things and unable to get at them.

The luggage office confirmed everything she had said to me and it was all completely correct.

it's a scam 100%. She can her docs by going to the police if that was all true.
I'd be extremely cautious too, coke - it doesn't add up. Nobody would put all their vital papers in left luggage, you'd carry those with you, you never know when you might need to produce them. I'd say it's a scam - and it's very easy to be taken in by highly credible people. If they make an exception for her, they'd have to do it for everyone. It's doesn't ring true at all to me. How come she knows where and how to contact you? I'd be very careful indeed.

Just say you'd fallen for it, being a kind person, and given her £200 - how would you get your money back? The odds are you wouldn't. I wouldn't get involved, it's not your problem.
she can contact CAB.
Go to the police and tell them you are being scammed. You almost certainly are.

The police can easily verify her story, e.g. by checking with the University, the bank and the left luggage place. In the highly unlikely event you are not being scammed, at that point the police will be involved and can sort it out.
Although it might be part of some type of scam I'm also aware that railway stations do tend to be full of people, often late at night, with serious problems. (I used to run one and I could bore you for hours with tales of all the odd things that had happened!).

As I see it, the left-luggage people (Excess Baggage Company?) are within their rights to retain the luggage until they receive payment, and to continue increasing the charges daily. So the law can't help the lady.

However a bit of press coverage might well put the company under pressure to act (especially this close to Christmas). Send details of the story to [email protected]
Question Author
I'm so glad I posted this question - seriously. Thanks for comments all - I am listening even if I may come across as stubborn!

I think I'll mention to police just in case (I have no evidence of anything you understand (she hasn't had any money) but they may be aware if she is up to anything.

Question Author
Thanks Buenchico .. for that link (hopefully if she's in the news its for right reasons!)

thanks all for you helpful comments.

obvious scam
Good Heavens! Are there still left luggage places?
Question Author
Well I've just got off the phone to police - I am SO relieved - they are concerned about her & her safety as vulnerable and will check out everything else too and get back to me tomorrow. They are not sure re scam at this stage but will check it out. A few things not quite adding up as mentioned. They are going to go over CCTV aswell and keen firstly to make sure that she is safe considering her circumstances.
They will be able to sort very quickly as good info!
I hope it all goes OK.

Do keep us informed, you have done your bit.
the luggage office people may well be in on it too - you may find she only ever speaks to the same few people at the same time etc

help her by all means but whatever you do, do not give her a penny and do not let her stay with you - let her know right away that you will not give her cash - i bet you dont see her again...

it all sounds rather convenient and elaborate - she may 'seem' genuine, but then she would wouldn't she, she is playing the long game, probably refusing small amounts of help etc in order to convince you she isnt after anything - its what confidence tricksters do
Question Author
Mamy.. will do. (team Cup Cake has helped!)

Found this on the internet.

Sounds fairly similar to your story

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