Last Four Years Tenants Conned Out Of £22 Million
Since 2014 official figures show that tenants have been conned out of £22million by criminals who have posed as landlords.
Action Fraud had been contacted by 18,645 tenants who had fallen prey to rental scams from April 1st 2014 to 31st March 2018, and its figures show that on average the victims of the scams had lost £1,396.
Action Fraud the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre is warning all prospective tenants, particularly students, to be fully aware of how to recognise the tell tale signs that they are being targeted by rental fraudsters.
The most common scam is when potential tenants are conned into paying an upfront fee to rent a residence when in fact the properties may already have tenants and in some cases they are non-existent.
There were 429 cases that were reported to the centre with the unlucky victims losing £5,000 or more.
Many victims will have been contacted online by criminals after replying to seemingly genuine adverts which will have photos and contact details.
In the majority of cases victims will pay the upfront fee without seeing the property, but in some cases the fraudsters have even arranged a ‘viewing’ to secure the fee.
The fraud centre says that in July and August there is always a higher number of frauds that are reported as it is prime time for holiday accommodation with 27% of all cases over a year occurring in this period.
Students are targeted by rental fraudsters with fake postings in local shops and online in college and university areas as between April 2014 and March 2018, Action Fraud had 930 cases reported by students who had in total lost more than one million pounds.
Pauline Smith a director of Action Fraud, said: “Whether you’re booking a well-earned holiday or looking to secure university accommodation, it is important to be wary of devious fraudsters who are looking to take your money.
“The impact of rental fraud can be severe, both emotionally and financially. By taking simple steps such as visiting the property you intend to rent or checking that the owner is on an approved accommodation list, you will be able to protect yourself from this type of fraud.”