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Saturday 23 September 2017

'Don't make the same mistake we did' - Family scammed out of €3k in rent hoax

Warning to renters

The Mathew family (left) and the letter they received
The Mathew family (left) and the letter they received
The Mathew family
The email received by Anu after she transferred the money
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A couple have told how they fell victim to a major rental scam which has been happening in counties all across Ireland.

Anu Mathew (30) told Independent.ie how the scam artist sent her a fake passport copy, a video walk through of the 'apartment' and spoke to her over the phone on a number of occasions.

Ms Mathew, who lives in Dublin with her husband and young son, says they were desperate to move out of their current house due to having trouble with neighbours.

The apartment advertised was located on Bancroft Avenue and looked very impressive in the photographs and video. She then transferred €2,660 to the man, who was using the name 'Hogan Darren Anthony'.

She was informed that the transaction would be carried out via an Airbnb 'agent' and that they would be required to transfer a deposit and one month's rent to seal the deal.

While she was suspicious about transferring money before a viewing, she thought it was legitimate as this is how Airbnb usually carry out their transactions.

The Mathew family
The Mathew family

After sending the money, she received an email notification with an Airbnb logo on top stating that her credit card could not be processed.

However, her bank confirmed that the money had been transferred to a UK Barclays account.

"I felt like we didn't deserve this. I was very upset as we were unhappy in our current house and now I had lost this money too. I know we should have thought better before transferring but I was desperate to move out and it seemed legitimate to me," Anu told Independent.ie.

"The pictures were very nice and he sent a link to a video showing every room - it was beautiful. After making the transaction, I felt something was not right and contacted Airbnb, but they said they had no record of any transaction."

The email received by Anu after she transferred the money
The email received by Anu after she transferred the money

Ms Mathew, who has been living in Ireland for six years, said she had never experienced difficulties finding accommodation in Ireland until the last year.

"We were just so desperate to move out as we didn't feel safe in our current house, but now the troublesome neighbours have gone, so we didn't move out in the end."

She praised her bank branch for their assistance after they reimbursed her with the €2,660 two months later.

However, since then, she says a number of unexplained sums have been taken out of her account.

"I have a feeling it is something to do with the rental scam. Sometimes €30 or €40 has gone out on something I haven't paid for. My bank have advised me to close my account and create a new one.

"I would warn people not to make the same mistakes we did, no matter how desperate you are."

Independent.ie previously revealed how a number of apartments in Ireland are being advertised in this manner.

Martin Clancy of Daft.ie warned people to be vigilant and to avoid using third parties to transfer money.

"On our safety pages we caution against paying through a third party money transfer service. We also recommend that you view the property in person first.

"It is always best to be vigilant and if anyone has any concerns they can hit the "Report Ad" button/link and our content team will investigate."

In response, Airbnb said: "This website has nothing to do with Airbnb. Airbnb provides a secure platform for people to find, book and list unique accommodation around the world."

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