Monday 10 December 2018

Scam artist using Dubliner's pictures and drivers licence to rent unavailable properties

  • Con artist sent picture of man with his cat taken from social media to 'prove' identity
  • Dubliner sent copy of his licence when trying to rent out a room, and it was subsequently used in a number of attempted scams
Pictures of the house advertised on Daft.ie
Pictures of the house advertised on Daft.ie
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A man whose picture and drivers licence is being used by a scam artist to lure tenants into renting unavailable properties has reported the matter to gardai.

A number of unsuspecting renters have contacted the person pretending to be a Dubliner who works in banking on rental website Daft.ie.

The scam artist was advertising a three-bedroom property in Wilfield Park, Dublin 4.

Independent.ie contacted the real Mr X who said; "That is a total scam. I have already reported it to the guards in Coolock.

Picture of the house advertised on Daft
Picture of the house advertised on Daft

"This basically happened back in November when I answered an advert on Daft. I had a room I was renting and the person looking to rent wanted proof of my ID, so I sent my drivers licence. I soon realised that something was fishy."

Emails below show how the person pretending to own the property in Ballsbridge demanded that rent be paid before the property had been viewed.

"Note that the first two months rent must be paid with deposit before moving in. I am 57 years old, like music, reading and good conversation.

"Have attached my ID here so we can develop more trust in each other."

They then sent a copy of a Mr X's drivers licence and a picture of him with a cat to prove they are a 'real' person.

A fake contract was also sent to the prospective tenants.

Maura Kenny (26), who returned home after three years in Australia, has been trying to find accommodation in Dublin for the last month.

Two of the property owners she contacted ended up being scams, including the person pretending to be Mr X.

"It's hard enough trying to find somewhere affordable without these scam artists trying to take your money. I realise now that if the apartments look too good to be true, they are."

This major rental scam has been happening all across Ireland as people become desperate in their bid to find somewhere to live.

Anu Mathew (31) told Independent.ie how a 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.

Untitled-1.jpg
The Mathew family (left) and the letter they received

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.

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."

Martin Clancy of Daft.ie, the site where the advertisement appeared, advised people not to transfer money before viewing a property.

"I'd advise that this person ceases all contact with this person and as we suggest in blog posts around security and also our safety tips we recommend that no one transfers money before viewing a property as this sounds very much like a 'long distance' landlord scam."

A spokesperson for Airbnb said that they do not advertise any properties in this manner.

"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. We encourage users to report fake emails or websites to our trust and safety team on report.phishing@airbnb.com, who will investigate. "

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