An investigation has revealed that nearly all the flat listings on Facebook Marketplace in central Glasgow were potential scams.
The fake adverts particularly target students amid a crisis in accessible student accommodation by asking would-be tenants to pay deposit fees upfront without an option to view the property first.
Deposits are asked for in cash or through fake links to third-party sites in order to secure the properties, then the advertiser simply disappears.
In the week beginning 18th September, there were 35 properties listed for rent on Facebook Marketplace, with 33 at a price well below market value, with contact details for a landlord who could not meet in person or with Facebook profiles less than six months old and with no connections to Glasgow, reports STV News.
One had used photographs from legitimate property management service Tay Lettings without their or the landlord’s knowledge or permission.
Tay Letting operations director David Gibb (pictured) says he was shocked to have images stolen and used in this way.
“In the situation we find ourselves in you will find that people are desperate and will easily fall into the hands of scammers who prey on the situation,” he explains.
“We are seeing record numbers of applicants for housing coming in whenever we’re advertising properties to rent.”
Adds Gibb: “We as letting agents would show you the property first and then take you through a credit reference check to ensure you can afford the property.”
Meta, who operate Facebook, told STV News: “We encourage our community to report buyers or sellers who aren’t acting in good faith – there’s a “Report Item” option on every product profile. We also encourage people to report activity like this to us and the police, so we can take action.”