Agency warns of fake property advert scam

Online fraudsters are targeting prospective tenants by offering listed properties at a lower price.

This is according to estate and lettings agency, Mayfair Town & Country, who claim that criminals are masquerading as private landlords and asking interested parties to pay the deposits outright.

The agency has highlighted the fraudulent activity after a member of the public alerted them to a fake Facebook advert involving a property that it’s marketing.

Featuring images taken from the official website, the advert offered a property at a reduced monthly rental rate, provided that the deposit was paid upfront.

Purporting to be the landlord who lived far away from the property, the fraudster told the hopeful tenant that the keys would be posted to them once the deposit had been fully paid.

The real landlord, who has no knowledge of the advert, has been contacted by the agency. Currently, they are marketing the property to let via their office in Worle.

So far, it is believed that no-one has paid any money to the fraudster advertising the property on the site.

Mayfair Town & Country also stated that it’d been alerted to a similar case in Weston-Super-Mare, with an advert being set up by a fraudster with a different name. It is unaware whether this is the same person or a larger collaborative group.

Commenting on the need for consumers to be alert to scams of this kind was David Powell. The operations director at the agency stated: “As much as we understand that tenants approach landlords directly to avoid associated agency fees, we advise them to tread carefully.

“Unfortunately we are unable to control the use of photos and information which is publicly available on our website, which makes this type of crime worryingly easy if targeting vulnerable tenants.

“A benefit of going through an agent when renting is that tenants are provided with an element of protection, which means their deposit is protected and scenarios like this can be avoided.

“Our advice would be to be vigilant, and to contact your local agent for advice if you have any concerns.

“We have a member of ARLA in all of our lettings offices who will be happy to help with any queries.”

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