Gardaí warning to students on rental scams

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

Gardaí are advising special vigilance of rental scams, particularly as students are returning to college and are booking their accommodation for the coming academic year.

There were a total of 503 cases of rental scams reported to AGS between February 2019 and the end of May 2021, over half of which occurred in the Dublin region.  An estimated €900,000 was stolen in over this period, with forty two per cent of all injured parties under the age of 25 and 72 per cent under the age of 35.

Although accommodation frauds have declined in recent months, largely due to remote learning as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, Gardaí have highlighted that the new generation of third level students seeking accommodation could be a vulnerable target for fraudsters.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Gardaí National Economic Crime Bureau advised: “You should only use recognised letting agencies or deal with people who are bona fide and trusted. Websites can be cloned, check the URL to ensure it’s a real website and take note of the privacy and refund policy sections.

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“Be very wary of social media advertisements or where a person letting the location will only communicate via messenger or Whatsapp. You should push for direct answers and if responses are vague, disengage immediately.

“Watch out for unsolicited contacts or where the contact appears to be based in other jurisdictions and especially if there is a sense of urgency like ‘a one-time offer’.”

The Detective Superintendent also recommended only using trusted money transfer systems, such as a credit card and to avoid transferring money directly, paying cash or paying into cryptocurrency wallets.

He concluded: “Be wary if a website is asking you to send money to a random PayPal address, wire it by Western Union, pay in iTunes gift cards or only deals in cryptocurrency. The majority of the time, those methods are done to avoid scrutiny and ensure that a transaction can’t be reversed.”

Click on link to read more in this weeks Digital Edition

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