Rental Scams are on the Increase

There are many warnings on the Internet relating to rent scammers who attempt to rent property either that does not exist or that is not theirs to rent.

Stephen Green
6:46 PM, Apr 20, 2022

There are many warnings on the Internet relating to rent scammers who attempt to rent property either that does not exist or that is not theirs to rent. It is essential that those seeking a rental property to live in safeguard themselves. They should never provide any personal details, or send any money to any one for any purpose without having documented evidence of the legitimacy of any offered contract.

Less well documented are the frauds involving scammers, who take the false identity of someone searching for accommodation. Typically, they will write to a homeowner offering their home for private rental and create a story based on their need to rent a house to live in. They will sound friendly and compliant and appear to be willing to provide all necessary details of their name, and other personal information. The politeness of their tone, current overseas address and capitalization of characters are potential evidence of a fraud mail.

They cite urgency as the reason they would like to take the property on offer for rental without seeing it. They will then offer to send a certified check to cover the cost of the rent, the security and an extra amount to cover the cost of the purchase of furniture by a third party. There is usually a request to send the extra money to this third party.

The check arrives and is banked by the owner. A day or two later the scammer contacts the homeowner again and states that they need the extra money returned to them. The check takes a few days to clear and the property owner unsuspectingly sends the extra money, back to the ?new tenant? as requested.

After the bank rejects the check, it is already too late for the property owner to retrieve their money, and the scammer has received the money that was sent to them and they simply ?disappear.? The scammer may also have received personal details of the person they were writing to and may use that information in other scamming attempts.

These frauds, which are extremely distressing and potentially very expensive for those who are affected. Their techniques are typically consistent. Property owners and managers can safeguard themselves from being scammed by ensuring they note the regular features of the swindle emails, as detailed above.