Saturday 7 December 2019

Renters warned about new scam

Mary Fogarty

Prospective renters in Bray have been warned to be wary, following an attempt by a bogus 'landlord' to con people out of money.

Geoffrey O'Sullivan said that he has been looking, unsuccessfully, for accommodation in the Bray area for the last two months on behalf of family members whose current accommodation is being sold.

He received an email from a man who claimed to be able to offer them a suitable rental property. 'We were over-joyed and entered into correspondence with him,' said Mr O'Sullivan. 'When something like that comes in, you can hardly believe your luck.'

The so-called landlord insisted that they make payment of €3,450 (two month's rent and a deposit)0 via AirBnB. He provided a number of internal photographs, but would not provide an address.

'We believed we had at last found suitable accommodation,' said Mr O'Sullivan. But they were suspicious. 'After comparing his correspondence with similar rental scams on the internet, we ceased correspondence with him and did not hand over any money,' he said.

'I was amazed to hear from a colleague that he had exactly the same correspondence, containing exactly the same internal photographs, regarding accommodation in Cabinteely,' said Mr O'Sullivan.

'I appreciate that this is not a new scam, but I want to warn people who are desperate to find suitable accommodation, of the criminals out there waiting to take advantage of their situations and scam them.'

In the initial message, which came from a gmail address, the bogus landlord said he was the owner of the property in Bray. He said the house was in 'a very quiet area near shops and public transport'.

'I have some contracts with more rental agencies and that's how I found that you are looking for a property in my area,' he wrote.

'The property is fully furnished and very bright as seen from the photos and has 2 bedrooms, large living room, kitchen and 2 bathrooms. It have 1 parking space available and on demand you could get the property unfurnished too.'

The rental price was €1,150, with all bills included. This is far below current market value in the area.

As the correspondence continued, the scammer said that they lived in England, and would not be in a position to show the property.

They said that an AirBnB agent would hand over the keys after the payment was made. AirBnB said that they do not engage in such a process.

The bogus correspondent went as far as to write 'I'm not a scammer, I wouldn't scam you.'

The email sent to Mr O'Sullivan's colleague was identical, except that 'Bray' was replaced with 'Maple Manor, Johnstown, Dublin', and a slightly higher price at €1,300.

Bray People