In just 2 months at the start of 2019 fraudsters posing as private
residential landlords have blatantly stolen £20,000 from unsuspecting tenants
seeking new accommodation. The scam involves the fraudsters posting as
landlords and taking money as “advance rent and deposits” off unsuspecting
Action Fraud says it has received numerous complaints from
victims who have been conned by the scammers. They are using websites which advertise
enticing looking rental properties at bargain rates, claiming to be genuine online
They advertise properties that either don’t exist, they may
have already been let, or they are letting them to multiple victims. Sometimes
they are being illegally sub-let.
Students moving to cities and particularly those coming from
abroad are often the ones targeted by the scammers.
This is the advice to students and would-be tenants given
out by Action Fraud:
Protect yourself from
Do not send money to
anyone advertising rental properties online until you are certain the
advertiser is genuine.
If you need to secure
accommodation in the UK from overseas, seek the help of the employer or
university you are coming to, or get a friend, contact or relative to check the
property exists and is available.
Do not pay any money
until you or a reliable contact has visited the property with an agent or the
Ask for copies of
tenancy agreements and any safety certificates such as Gas Electricity or HMO
Do not be pressurised
into transferring large sums of money. Transfer funds to a bank account having
obtained the details by contacting the landlord or agent directly after the
above steps have been followed. Be sceptical if you’re asked to transfer any
money via a money transfer service like Western Union.