Don’t get stung by this.
An Garda Síochána has issued a warning to students over rental scams, particularly as universities begin to reopen. According to the statement, Gardaí believe that the “new generation” of third-level students could be a target for rental scammers.
Between 2019 and 2021, over 500 such cases were reported to the Gardaí, and over €900,000 has been stolen by accommodation fraudsters. Evidence suggests that young people are far more susceptible to the crime, with 42% of victims under 25, and 72% under 35.
Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Gardaí National Economic Crime Bureau offered the following advice:
“You should only use recognised letting agencies or deal with people who are bona fide and 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.
“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.
“Watch out for unsolicited contacts or where the contact appears to be based in other jurisdictions and especially if there is a sense of urgency like ‘a one-time offer’.
“If you have decided to take up the offer only use trusted money transfer systems, I would recommend using a credit card. Never transfer money direct/pay cash/pay into cryptocurrency wallets.
“Be wary if a website is asking you to send money to a random PayPal address, wire it by Western Union, pay in iTunes gift cards or only deals in cryptocurrency. The majority of the time, those methods are done to avoid scrutiny and ensure that a transaction can’t be reversed.”