Offshore scam artists pretending to be international brands targeting tenants

Offshore scam artists pretending to be international brands targeting tenants
Offshore scam artists pretending to be international brands targeting tenants

Overseas scam artists who are targeting tenants under the guise of being international brands are increasingly catching renters in scams, says Certified Practising Real Estate Agents (CPREA) chairman Geoff Baldwin.

In the past week CPREA has received two reports of tenants who were asked to transfer money offshore into accounts they thought belonged to real estate agents.

The accounts were in fact owned by fraudsters looking to get their hands on the tenants’ funds.

The tenants had been responding to online advertisements, which had promoted a Perth property for rent. The owner had no knowledge of the advertisements.

“The fraudster simply chooses a property, usually an apartment in a larger complex and then promotes it at a drastically lower rent than others in that complex so as to attract maximum inquiry,” Baldwin warns.

“In both cases the respondents have been people who are doing it tough and who had found it hard to secure a rental property elsewhere hence are attracted by the lower rent.”

The modus operandi of the scammers is to request a wire transfer to an overseas account. After this point, communication ends, explains Baldwin.

“Sadly, in one of these incidences the tenants, a single mum with a four year old, transferred all of the money they had been saving for months to pay what they thought was the bond on a rental apartment,” he said.

Baldwin provides these tips for avoiding the scams:

  1. Be wary of requests to transfer funds offshore

  2. Poorly worded emails and misspellings are another bad sign

  3. If you think it’s a reputable brand – check if they have an office

  4. Email the office directly

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

Tags: 
Fraud

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