In 2016, the UK lost £2 million each day as a result of financial fraud, according to official figures released by Financial Fraud Action UK. All over the world, people are being targeted in renting scams – the UK is no exception.
The friend scam
Criminals are using the internet to fool people into believing low-price, mint condition houses are available. Potential renters are finding these and are handing money over to the criminals in the form of a deposit or first months’ rent.
In the scam, the fraudster asks the victim to send money equalling one months’ rent to a friend, using a service like Western Union. Your “friend” can then collect the money and return it to you, in a demonstration that you have enough money to pay the rent. However, because these are relatively small amounts of money, you don’t need any form of ID like a driving licence or passport to collect it. All that’s needed is the Western Union paperwork, which the scammers ask you to send to them.
At the moment, people being hit by the scam are usually in foreign countries, looking to move into the UK. They can’t go to view the property, but also have no reason to doubt its existence.
The key scam
Another scam that’s circulating is where potential renters are told that the property they’d like to rent currently belongs to someone who’s gone to a different country with their work, and they’ve left the keys inside. Thus, the scammer asks for £50 in order to unlock the doors.
For the victim, the £50 might not be a lot of money. But for the criminals, it can add up to thousands of pounds when conning multiple people every day.
Have you been a victim of one or more renting scams? Let us know in the comments below. Sign up to our mailing list to receive the latest updates and training videos. ‘Together online, we make the World a safer place’.