GARDAI are investigating a property scam that has conned renters out of thousands of euro and left two teenagers homeless.
An apartment in Dublin's city centre was advertised for rent last week on property website Daft.ie. Two potential renters discovered their keys did not work after viewing the property and paying a €1,600 deposit to the man who claimed to be the landlord, and gardai believe many more could have been hit by the same scam.
Olga Maslovska (19) was one of the people who responded to the advertisement and viewed the property in Dublin 1 on Wednesday, October 9.
She decided to take the apartment, which she was going to share with an 18-year-old friend, on the same day.
She paid a €1,600 deposit and was told she could move in on Friday, October 11, after the apartment was painted.
When she arrived to move in, Ms Maslovska attempted to open the door, only to find the lock would not turn.
She then discovered she was not the only person scheduled to move in that day.
"There were two men standing outside the apartment and when I went to ask them why they were there, they told me they were supposed to be moving in, too," she said.
Another victim, a Brazilian student, wishes to remain anonymous as she feels unsafe and is "afraid something will happen".
She viewed the apartment a week before Ms Maslovska, and was told after she had paid her €1600 deposit that she must wait until Friday, October 4, to move in. "The apartment was a mess, and (he) told me it had to be cleaned and painted," she said.
When she could not enter the property, she informed the gardai but said she "doesn't know how things work here" and is "still waiting" for something to be done.
Ms Maslovska has been homeless since the scam and is working long hours to make up for the loss of €1,600, staying with one friend for a couple of nights before moving on to another.
"I am lucky, I have friends here I can stay with. My friend who was supposed to be moving in with me is completely alone and has nowhere to go," she said.
She has visited the house several times since reporting the case to the gardai, finding it empty.
However, a neighbouring resident told Ms Maslovska that people are constantly "coming and going" from the house.
A garda spokesperson said such scams were "not unheard of" and gardai were looking at CCTV footage from the area.