Rental fraud on the rise in Greater Manchester last week
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Rental fraud is when tenants are tricked into paying money upfront for a property that does not exist, has already been rented out, or has been rented to multiple victims at the same time.
Last week in GMP, 14 people fell victim to rental scams with an average loss of £400 per person.
The victim loses the upfront fee they have paid and is not able to live in the property they thought they had secured to rent with the payment.
Rental fraudsters target students looking for university accommodation especially during this time of year with students heading back to university for fresher’s week.
Detective Sergeant Stacey Shannon of GMP’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “We are trying to arm the public with crime prevention advice to protect themselves from crimes like this.
“The majority of these crimes are preventable.
“Rental frauds can be devastating and can result in people losing a lot of money to criminals.
“It is common that victims are making contact through social media after seeing property rental adverts and then using online methods via email, phone or direct messages to contact those who are advertising the property.
"Once the victim has agreed to rent the property, they are then sent a tenancy agreement via email.
“The victim transfers money as a deposit to confirm the agreement – but when it comes to their move in date, there are already people in the property and trying to contact the landlord who advertised is also difficult as their contact numbers usually disable and the advert disappears.”
Simple steps to protect yourself from rental scams:
- 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 to rent. - Do not pay any money until you or a reliable contact has visited the property with an agent or the landlord. - Ask for copies of tenancy agreements and any safety certificates such as Gas, Electricity or House of multiple occupancy (what is this) Licence. - 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.
Report to Action fraud if you suspect you have become the victim of a pet scam by calling 0300 123 2040.
For more fraud prevention advice visit GMP’s crime prevention webpage on Advice about fraud | Greater Manchester Police (gmp.police.uk).