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Warnings raised over rise in fraudsters targeting property market

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  • 22/08/2023
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Warnings raised over rise in fraudsters targeting property market
Crooks are taking advantage of the state of the property market at the moment, taking to social media sites and posing as landlords.

The National Association of Property Buyers reported seeing a growth in cases involving fraudsters posting fake adverts online. The listings look identical to authentic listings, just with the contact details changed to those of the scammer.

They can then pose as the landlord and attempt to con the prospective tenants into handing over a deposit, before disappearing with the money.

Figures from Action Fraud show that rental scams have become a bigger concern, with 5,751 reports of rental scams last year. That’s up by 23 per cent on 2021, while losses hit a whopping £9.4m in total. That works out at around £1,600 per victim.

Jonathan Rolande, founder of the National Association of Property Buyers, said that the shortage of quality, affordable rental property was opening the door for fraudsters.

He added: “With up to 20 applicants for every rental home, tenants find themselves at the very sharpest end of the housing crisis. Those that don’t tick all the right boxes for landlords and letting agents – receiving benefits, pets, adverse credit history, children – will find themselves the most vulnerable.

The problem is being driven by a shortage of rental properties and tenants are having to act quickly to avoid bidding wars. The average monthly rent rose to an all-time high of £1,273 in June, a third higher than the £951 in June 2021.”

Rolande suggested that it’s the least well off who are most likely to lose out as they rely on the likes of personal contacts and social media sites in order to find new homes.

As well as doctored listings, Rolande highlighted the use of fake links in text messages or WhatsApp messages as a common tactic employed by the scammers, alongside trying to let the same property to numerous tenants.

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