Students warned to be vigilant and not send money for accommodation without actually viewing it – – Our News, Your Views

Students warned to be vigilant and not send money for accommodation without actually viewing it

Gardaí have issued a housing scam alert as students return to colleges and universities for the new academic year, reports RTE.

Housing fraud increased by 38% last year compared to 2021.

While this year’s figures show an 8 percent drop at the end of June, Gardaí warn that one in three incidents occur in August and September.

Rent fraud occurs when a victim pays rent for an apartment – usually in the form of a deposit – and discovers that the transaction was fraudulent.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Superintendent Michael Cryne of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) said there are three common types of accommodation scams.

“One is fraudsters offering accommodation that does not exist in the first place,” he said, reports RTE.

“Two, they are offering accommodation that they are not entitled to offer and another one, that is more old fashioned, is taking deposits from more than one person for the same accommodation. You need to view it (the property), you need to ensure that the keys work, you need to ensure there is nobody else in it already, that somebody is not subletting and running off with the money and again, of course, ideally, the property should be registered with the Residential Tenancy Board as well,” he added, reports RTE.

The GNECB has issued a list of red flags for potential tenants they should be aware of:

– If a rental seems too good to be true, it probably is.

– Accommodation is only announced through social media ads or the person providing the location will only be contacted via Messenger or WhatsApp.

– The residency is from an unsolicited contact/social media feed/pop-up or the contact appears to be in another country.

– There is a sense of urgency to secure the apartment by paying a deposit

– Listings contain grammatical or spelling errors and/or contain very limited descriptions or photos of the property.

– The landlord is unable to meet you to show you the property in person.

– Payment is required before signing the rental agreement.

– You will be asked to pay by cash, cryptocurrency or non-bank transfer.

Over the past five years, almost €2 million has been stolen from housing scams.

The Gardaí recommends the use of a credit card to accept accommodation offers.

– Don’t transfer cash, don’t transfer money with Revolut, don’t pay with cryptocurrency, don’t send money to a random PayPal address, and don’t send money with Western Union.

– Pay in a trackable and/or refundable way.

– Insist on payment receipt and rental agreement.

– Report suspected fraud to Gardaí and banks, reports RTE.

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