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Government works with Facebook to end property rental scams

fraud james cleverly

A new Online Fraud Charter aims to thwart property rental scams including fake accommodation listings on Facebook Marketplace used to lure in unsuspecting tenants.

It’s part of a big government crackdown to protect consumers from online scams, fake adverts and romance fraud. The world’s biggest tech companies including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and YouTube signed up to the charter and have pledged to take additional action to block and remove fraudulent content from their sites.

A new raft of measures include verifying new advertisers and promptly removing any fraudulent content. There will also be increased levels of verification on peer-to-peer marketplaces, and people using online dating services will have the opportunity to prove they are who they say they are.

Collaborate

Home Secretary James Cleverly (main picture) says an agreement of this kind has never been done on this scale before, but adds: “Our work does not end here – I will continue to ensure we collaborate across government, and with law enforcement and the private sector, to ensure everyone in the UK is better protected from fraud.”

Earlier this year, LandlordZONE reported on a BBC investigation into an advance rent payment scam, a technique that has been around for many years, but which has now involved into one that's difficult to spot.

Criminals use photographs pinched from the leading portals including Rightmove to advertise real properties for rent on Facebook’s free-to-use marketplace.

Fake listings are used to establish contact with victims, who are then asked to book their tenancies through fake but convincing copies of either the Airbnb or TripAdvisor websites, via which they are urged to pay for their deposit and first month’s rent by bank transfer. The fake listings are made through the accounts of real people whose accounts have been hacked and then compromised.

Martin Lewis (pictured), founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, comments: "We are in the midst of an epidemic of scams, which not only devastate people’s financial lives, but their mental health and sense of self-esteem too.

"I’ve long called for regulation and law changes to make these big tech firms step up to the plate and deny these scammers the oxygen of publicity. So I am pleased at the signing of this voluntary agreement."

Read the Online Fraud Charter in full
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