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SCAM alert: Landlord and agent pics being used to lure rental ripoff victims

rental scam picture

A BBC investigation has uncovered a new property rental scam that uses Facebook Marketplace and then fake accommodation booking sites to lure in unsuspecting tenants.

Called an advance rent payment scam, a technique that has been around for many years, this version of it is more sophisticated and 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.

As is usual in these scams, the properties are improbably luxurious but offered at very low rental prices.

One example LandlordZONE found (pictured) is a three-bedroom modernist property in Clapham, London recently on the market for �2 million - where they scam lister found the photos - offered for rent at �1,000 a month '� at least �4,000 less than its market value.

These listings are used to establish contact with victims, who are then asked to book their tenancies through fake but convincing copies of the either the Airbnb or TripAdvisor websites, via which they are urged to pay for their deposit and first month's rent by bank transfer.

Designed to take advantage of inexperienced or desperate tenants, the BBC journalist conducting the investigation was hard pressed to tell the difference between real and fake TripAdvisor and Airbnb pages.


Reporter Shari Vahl also claimed during the programme that the vast majority of properties advertised on Facebook Marketplace in London were posted by scammers, a problem she claimed was likely to be taking place elsewhere too.

LandlordZONE has approached Meta, the owner of Facebook, for comment.

Another example given was a one-bedroom luxury '�bills included' furnished flat in Chelsea advertised for �1,300 a month which the real landlord was advertising on Rightmove via their agent for �3,600 a month.

The fake listings are made through the accounts of real people whose accounts have been hacked and then compromised.

Arguably the most worrying aspect of this is that landlords' properties are being used in criminal enterprises to rip off vulnerable people moving home, often stealing significant sums off them using images taken by agents or their landlords.

Facebook has been investigated before for other rental scams facilitated by its marketplace.

Listen to the programme in full.

Picture credit: Knight Frank


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