An Garda Síochána has issued a warning to students in relation to an accommodation fraud scam.
While accommodation frauds have declined in recent months due to Covid 19 restrictions, Gardaí believe that the new generation of third-level students seeking accommodation could be a target for fraudsters.
AGS received reports of 503 cases of rental scams reported to AGS between February 1st, 2019 and May 31st, 2021.
Accommodation fraud scam.
Advice to students seeking accommodation
Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Gardaí National Economic Crime Bureau issued the following advice:
- You should only use recognised letting agencies or deal with people who are bona fida and trusted;
- Websites can be cloned. Check the URL to ensure it is a real website and take note of the privacy and refund policy sections;
- 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;
- Also, 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;
- If you have decided to take up the offer, only use a trusted money transfer system. I would recommend using a credit card. Never transfer money direct, pay cash, pay into cryptocurrency wallets;
- 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. Most of the time, those methods are done to avoid scrutiny and ensure that a transaction cannot be reversed.
Earlier this year, we brought you a story about a 14-year-old who lost thousands of pounds whilst attempting to purchase his first tractor.
According to Planet Radio, teenager, Harvey Waters, used his life savings to invest in the agricultural machine.
The radio station reports that Waters’ father went into a bank and drew out £8,500 to transfer to the family account to pay the eBay seller for the tractor by card.
His mother, Rachel, told the radio station that “everything seemed legitimate”. They had communicated with the seller by phone and email on several occasions.