Rental scams are on the increase.
As students desperately seek out accommodation in Cork ahead of the new college year, Gardaí are advising people to beware of scammers who dupe victims into paying up for accommodation that doesn’t exist.
There has been an increase of 30 percent in accommodation fraud in 2022 and €1300 is the median amount stolen, with €291,452 taken in 2022 versus almost €250,000 in 2019.
It’s clear that young people are being targeted too; there has been a 50 percent increase in victims of accommodation fraud aged under 25 in 2022.
Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Gardaí National Economic Crime Bureau advised house hunters to only use recognised letting agencies or deal with people who are trusted.
“Websites can be cloned, check the URL to ensure it’s a real website, and take note of the privacy and refund policy sections,” he said.
“Be very wary of social media advertisements or where a person letting the location will only communicate via messenger or Whatsapp. You should push for direct answers and if responses are vague disengage immediately.”
Detective Cryan also advised students to use a credit card for money transfers and “never transfer money direct, pay cash, pay into cryptocurrency wallets”.
You should also be wary if a website is asking you to send money to a random PayPal address or asking you to wire it by Western Union or pay in iTunes gift cards.
“Most of the time, those methods are done to avoid scrutiny and ensure that a transaction can not be reversed,” he added.
- When the landlord is unable to meet up to show you the property in person.
- When communication is only through text / WhatsApp or other social media platforms.
- When the property is offered with no questions asked and payment demanded immediately before signing the lease.
- When you are asked to pay cash, cryptocurrency or money via a non-bank transfer (such as a wire transfer)