Safeguarding Your Home Search: How To Spot Property Rental Scams


January 14, 2024

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In recent times, the scourge of property rental scams has escalated, leaving in its wake at least 287 victims who have collectively lost a staggering $1.8 million between July to November 2023 alone. Property scams of this kind have been on the rise since February 2022, as scammers have been looking for ways to cheat unknowing victims of their money through online means. The culprits, posing as legitimate property agents, deploy cunning tactics on popular online platforms like Facebook, Carousell, and various property advertisement websites. This surge in fraudulent activities emphasises the critical need for increased vigilance and awareness among potential renters. 

How can renters protect themselves from these ruses and ensure that they are dealing with credible agents? Read on to learn about the tactics scammers use to trick you and how to safeguard yourself from them. 

Tactics That Scammers Use 

False Credibility and Virtual Illusions

The playbook of these scammers involves presenting a façade of authenticity. Victims are initially wooed with images of Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) registration numbers, credentials, and virtual tours of the advertised property. These elements, though fabricated, serve as a smokescreen to win the trust of unsuspecting individuals.

High-Pressure Ploys

Once contact is established, scammers resort to high-pressure tactics. They assert that the property in question is in high demand, coercing victims into making deposits to secure viewings. Unfortunately, after the deposit is made, the scammers disappear into the digital abyss, leaving victims without recourse.

The “Personal Assistant” Ruse

In a more elaborate scheme, victims are instructed to meet a supposed “personal assistant” to facilitate property viewings. Rental payments are then demanded from these victims through PayNow or bank transfers. 

Fake Invoices and Letters

Taking their deception a step further, some scammers provide victims with fraudulent invoices or Letters of Intent, adding an additional layer of complexity to their already elaborate ploy.

How to Protect Yourself Against Property Scams

In your home search, it is crucial to prioritise the verification of Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) registration if the property is being handled by a property agent. Always ensure that the property agent you are dealing with is indeed a registered CEA agent. Additionally, cross-check the provided phone number against the details available on the CEA public register. If the person you are dealing with claims to be the owner or landlord of the property in question, you may request to see the title deed to verify the property’s ownership. Any discrepancies should be treated as red flags, signalling potential fraudulent activity.

When navigating financial aspects, exercise prudence by adhering to the principle of no payments before viewings. Make it clear that payments are not a prerequisite to secure property viewings or rentals. Instead, advocate for all payments to be made directly to the property owner, bypassing intermediary agents. Recognise that property agents are not authorised to demand payments for property viewings, and any such requests should be met with scepticism.

In times of uncertainty, seeking guidance becomes paramount. Consult trusted individuals, such as family members or reputable real estate agents when in doubt. Their insights and experience can provide valuable perspectives and help navigate potential pitfalls. Furthermore, do not rely solely on Facebook or Carousell listings; instead, verify details through official means such as title deeds or CEA public registry for an extra layer of assurance. 

In the face of fraudulent activities, taking prompt action is imperative. Report any encountered fraudulent listings on online platforms should you come across them. This not only protects you but also helps prevent others from falling victim to similar scams. In addition to reporting, consider direct verification by reaching out to the agent’s agency through trustworthy channels to check the validity of these posts. Validating details directly with the agency can provide more assurance and allow the respective agencies to investigate further if there is a need to.

Closing Thoughts

At PropertyLimBrothers, our commitment to serving our clients with integrity remains unwavering. To ensure your security, prioritise being on our official website when engaging with our services. In your interactions with our consultants, do not hesitate to request credentials and verify contact numbers against the CEA public registry. 

Your safety and peace of mind are our utmost priorities, and we stand by our dedication to maintaining the highest standards of trust and accountability. For more assistance on your property journey or to report any fraudulent postings, contact us here and our consultants will be ready to assist you. 

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