Vigilance urged as over €900k lost to rental scams

Galway Daily business VAT refund changes threaten Galway's tourism and retail report claims

There were more than 500 victims of rental scams in the space of just four months this year.

Gardaí say that they received 503 reports of rental scams between February 1 and May 31 this year.

All told, more than €900,000 was lost by victims as a results of these scams.

Gardaí are advising people to be on the lookout for fraud when renting, especially during a time of year when students are returning to college.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan advised that, when renting, you should only go through recognised letting agencies, or people who are “bone fida and trusted”.

He further cautioned that websites can be cloned, so people should check the URL carefully. A cloned website has been designed by fraudsters to closely resemble a legitimate one, and uses a very similar address.

“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”.

“If you have decided to take up the offer only use trusted money transfer systems, I would recommend using a credit card. Never transfer money direct, pay cash, pay into cryptocurrency wallets.”

Websites that request methods like asking for a western union transfer, or use a random PayPal address are likely doing so to avoid scrutiny, and ensure transfers can’t be reversed, he added.

A county/Divisional breakdown of these recorded rental scams is not available at this moment Gardai said, but more than half occurred in the Dublin region.

Two fifths of the victims in these crimes were under the age of 25, and 72% were younger than 35 years old.