How exactly does the rental housing scam work?

The criminals search websites and listings that list flats or homes to let. They take the information in those ads and post it, with their own e-mail address, in an ad on other websites or listings.

An interested person will contact this person via e-mail or telephone. Victims are usually instructed to pay money over to them before taking occupation. This amount will usually be for the first month’s rental as well as a deposit.

The applicant might sometimes be asked to fill out an application with bank account details, ID document copy and other personal information. A Lease Agreement will also be signed but will be very short documents will few details and few clauses.

How to avoid being a victim of these scams:

  • Only deal with rental agents who are local;

  • Beware of only e-mail and telephone correspondence.

  • Research the average rental rates in that area and be suspicious if the rate is significantly lower;

  • Don’t give out personal information to strangers;

If you suspect a scam, have already been victimized, or know someone who has fallen victim to a scam, please report it to your local authority or police station.