Search

22 May 2022

'Be extra vigilant' - Gardaí advise public n Carlow to be wary of accommodation fraud

'Be extra vigilant' - Gardaí advise public n Carlow to be wary of accommodation fraud

"Trust your instincts and, like anything in life, if the offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is." 

An Garda Síochána has issued a warning to the public in Carlow and across Ireland to be vigilant about accommodation fraud. 

People looking for accommodation are advised to be cautious as successful fraudsters convince their targets to pay a deposit - and sometimes rent in advance - for a home that either doesn't exist or does exist but isn't for rent. 

While the number of incidents decreased by over 17% in 2020 due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, there was a 30% increase in the amount of accommodation fraud reported last year. 

A total of 279 incidents were reported in 2021 with over €516,000 stolen in rental scams, and almost half of victims under the age of 25 (58% female, 42% male). 

Detective Inspector Steven Meighan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, said:

"Now that society has reopened, there are many more opportunities for fraudsters. We would advise people to be extra vigilant to avoid becoming a target. In recent cases victims sent their money to accounts in Spain and the UK – always check the IBAN of the account you have been asked to send your money to; it’s usually a good indicator of fraud if the bank is in a different country.

"Trust your instincts and, like anything in life, if the offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is." 

Red flags for accommodation fraud include grammar or spelling mistakes in the listing, all communication only by WhatsApp or social media, payment requested immediately before signing a lease, and payment requested in cash, wire transfer, PayPal, iTunes gift card or cryptocurrency. 

Another flag to watch out for is if the landlord says they are away and cannot meet to show the accommodation, or if the account to pay into is in a different country. 

In regards to long term rentals, fraudsters target people under pressure to find something within a budget and/or timeframe. 

Targets are usually under 25 and students seeking rentals at a time when demand is high. 

This situation can be made worse if the student is a foreign national who may already be paying high rates for temporary accommodation, or who may have arranged everything online. 

In regards to short term rentals, targets are generally middle-aged and scams often involve holiday rentals. 

According to Gardaí, in most cases the victim will have spotted an advert on social media and will have communicated with the fraudster only via social media. 

Gardaí advise using only recognised letting agencies, being wary of social media adverts, making sure the property exists, only using trusted money transfer systems such as credit cards, and to never tarnsfer money using methods that can't be reversed such as cash, direct bank transfers or cryptocurrency. 

They also advise to do a landlord check through the Residential Tenancies Board website, and check the IBAN of the landlord's account (for example on https://www.iban.com/iban-checker). 

Members of the public who believe they are a victim of accommodation fraud should contact any Garda Station and report the crime. 

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.


Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.