Fraudsters posing as landlords have conned prospective tenants out of £20,000 over the past couple months by persuading them to pay rent in advance, according to a government body.
Action Fraud said it received 28 reports of scammers claiming to be online landlords between December 2018 and February 2019, tricking prospective renters into collectively sending £19,990 under the guise that they have secured a home to live in.
The scammers, pretending to be landlords of properties seen online, claimed that the money paid as a deposit – plus in some cases a month’s rent – would be placed into the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).
After receiving the money, the fraudster would send a fake email claiming to be from the TDS and confirming they have received their deposit.
Victims who thought that they had secured a property later discovered that the money has been sent directly to the fraudster and they had been left out of pocket and with no home to move into.
Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud, commented: “Devious fraudsters are targeting a whole host of victims, from university students to professionals, for their own selfish gain.
“Falling victim to rental fraud can have a huge impact on your finances at a crucial time where every penny counts. This is why it’s so important to follow our advice to protect yourself.”