Overseas fraudsters presenting themselves under reputable international brands are increasing trapping prospective tenants into rent scams using local properties according to www.CPREA.com.au chairman, Geoff Baldwin.
“In the past three weeks we have had two separate incidences brought to our notice where unsuspecting tenants had been asked to transfer money off-shore into what was represented as a real estate agency account when in fact the agency does not exist”, Mr Baldwin said.
“In both cases the tenant applicants responded to online ads promoting a property in Perth advertised for rent without the actual owner’s knowledge.
“The fraudster simply chooses a property, usually an apartment in a larger complex and then promotes it at a drastically lower rent than others in that complex so as to attract maximum inquiry.
“In both cases the respondents have been people who are doing it tough and who had found it hard to secure a rental property elsewhere hence are attracted by the lower rent.
“The scammers request that the applicant transfer funds via a wire transfer to an overseas account and once the transfer is completed, communication ceases.
“Sadly, in one of these incidences the tenants, a single mum with a four year old, transferred all of the money they had been saving for months to pay what they thought was the bond on a rental apartment.
“People should be very wary of requests to transfer funds overseas and should be very wary of emails that are badly worded with misspellings, etc. Also, as these scammers usually promote themselves as being a reputable brand it is very easy to go online to check if that office actually exists and if it does, email the office direct.
“Tenants should keep in mind that when they deal directly with an Australian real estate agent they will always have the protection and assurance of that agent being compelled to work within strictly legislated guidelines”, he said.