Scams

The Fake Letting Ad scam

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This is where an advertisement is placed on one of the online letting sites (such as Gumtree) by a fraudster.  Often the advert will include cloned logos which will give the advert a false impression of authority.

The advert will typically be for an competitively priced property where the landlord is resident abroad and demand an upfront fee from the prospective tenant before they can view the property.

Needless to say no landlord or agent shows up at the viewing and the applicant loses their money.

The changed deposit details scam

This scam is used mostly against property purchasers but could equally well be used against tenants.

What happens is that the scammers hack into the email correspondence between the parties.  Then when the buyer (or tenant) are about to pay the deposit, they send an authentic looking email saying that the bank details for payment have been changed and giving their own bank details.

Pre payment meter scam

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This is where tenants have a pre payment meter at their property which is topped up using Paypoint or Payzone outlets.

The fraudster will knock at your door, offering discounted credits.  After taking your money, they will then use a cloned key to top up your meter, illegally.  So you will still owe the money to the energy company.

The scam is also called 'the milk round scam'.  

Meters made after April 2011 are safe as those keys don't work with them, but most meters are older than this.  

Criminal tenants taking out a mortgage on their landlords property

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Because information is so easily obtained now online it is becoming easier for criminal tenants to take out a mortgage on their rented property. Often the first the landlord knows about this is when the rent fails to come in after the tenants have done a runner once they have got their hands on the money. 

The debt collectors for the mortgage company will then appear some time after, and the landlord will then have all the hassle of dealing with the problem.  Which may take some time.

The deposit up front for non existent property scam

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If you are booking a property via the internet you need to be very careful about this.  Apparently there has been an increase in criminals copying (or 'scraping') genuine property portals and website to advertise non existent properties.

They then ask for a deposit up front.  Needless to say, you then find that the property does not exist and you have lost the money.  

The false landlord association member scam

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Being a member of a Landlords Association is often seen as a sign of responsibility for a landlord. Although Landlords Associations do not inspect and regulate their members (for example as the Solicitors Regulation Authority do for solicitors), they do have a code of conduct, and will sometimes expel a landlord if he is found to contravene this.

Some criminal landlords therefore are claiming, for example in advertisments and web postings for properties to be members of Landlords associations, such as the National Landlords Association.  

The saving money on deposit scam

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Sometimes landlords may suggest that tenants can pay more rent each month instead of a deposit, and say that at the end of the tenancy they will receive this extra money back if there are no breakages.

Needless to say there is always something for the landlord to pick up on, and the extra money is never repaid.  

Bogus and unjustified charges

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Some landlords and agents will keep making charges which are unjustified.  For example charges which are not in the tenancy agreement and which have never been agreed.  A landlord is not entitled to just impose a charge arbitrarily, without prior agreement.  

Sometimes also tenancy agreements will include clauses for charges which are void and illegal under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts legislation.  Landlord Law tenant members can find out more about this on the site.

The advance fee fraud

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This is where you are asked to wire money to a friend or relative to prove that you can pay the rent, and provide details to prove that you have done this. The scammer then collects the money and disappears.

Scammers often post false property details on quite reputable web-sites (who do their best to stop them, but you can’t catch everyone). This scam is particularly associated with the transfer service Western Union.

Bogus advance rent cheques

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This is where a cheque is sent to a landlord or letting agency (although it is most often an agency) ostensibly to pay for rent in advance for a letting, and the agency is then put under pressure to cash the cheque and pay out against it before it has cleared. However the cheque is forged and does not clear. The agency is left out of pocket, as the bank will probably not re-imburse the loss.

Warning signs are:

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