Ea­ger ten­ants caught in cons

SCAM­MERS USE FAKE PROP­ER­TIES

Avon Valley Gazette - - NEWS -

with Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner Anne Driscoll WHEN look­ing for a rental prop­erty there are of­ten time pres­sures that mean you need to find a new home quickly.

It can be quite com­pet­i­tive if it is a re­ally nice op­tion for the price, which adds to the sense of ur­gency.

Scam­mers are all too aware of th­ese fac­tors at play and tar­get ten­ants through on­line clas­si­fied ad­ver­tise­ments fea­tur­ing prop­er­ties that do not ex­ist or are owned by some­one else.

Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion has heard from real es­tate agents who have had prospec­tive ten­ants turn up to home open view­ings be­cause of scam­mers steal­ing the pho­tos and ad­ver­tis­ing the prop­erty as a rental, when in re­al­ity it is for sale.

In 2014, around 30 ac­com­mo­da­tion scam vic­tims con­tacted WA ScamNet and be­tween them the to­tal mon­e­tary loss was al­most $43,000 – an av­er­age loss per vic­tim of nearly $1500.

Tell­tale signs that the per­son of­fer­ing the prop­erty for rent is a scam­mer in­clude the rent be­ing asked for is quite cheap for the qual­ity of the prop­erty and they won’t speak on the phone or meet in per­son.

They also come up with ex­cuses why you can’t view the prop­erty prior to pay­ment or de­posit, bond or rent and they may give de­tails about them­selves, such as a re­spected pro­fes­sion or men­tion of vol­un­teer work, to in­duce you into think­ing they are of good char­ac­ter.

To catch the scam­mers out when look­ing for a rental, never solely rely on pho­tos. Google the ad­dress given to see if the prop­erty is ac­tu­ally up for sale, or be­ing rented out by a le­git­i­mate prop­erty agent.

Also, only deal with land­lords you can meet face-to­face or go through a prop­erty agency and do not hand over money be­fore any ex­change of con­tract or keys.

iRen­tWA, a free app for ten­ants de­vel­oped by Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion, can be down­loaded from the App Store or Google Play.

It has a cal­cu­la­tor to work out the max­i­mum amount you might have to pay a land­lord be­fore mov­ing into a rental prop­erty.

Read more about rent­ing a prop­erty at www.com­merce. wa.gov.au/ten­ancy

To find out what how to re­port dodgy rental prop­erty ad­verts and as­so­ci­ated email ac­counts, see the WA ScamNet web­site at www. scamnet.wa.gov.au

If you have lost money in a rental scam, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion may be car­ried out if the of­fender can be lo­cated in Australia. Call 1300 30 40 54 and ask for WA ScamNet to dis­cuss your case.

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