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Posted on January 26th 2016 by admin-movingin

Online rental fraud on the rise as more scam landlords lure tenants

Original Author: Rosalind Renshaw

Online rental fraud is rising sharply, the BBC reported last night.

There were 3,193 cases of alleged rental fraud in England and Wales last year, reported to Action Fraud – up from 2,216 in 2014.

The fraudsters offer rental accommodation which they do not own, taking deposits.

BBC researchers posed as tenants, and with the help of website EasyRoomMate contacted advertisers whose adverts had actually been blocked by the site.

One fraudster “Louise” advertised a plush Kensington apartment for £700 per month, well below the market rate.

“Louise” tried to convince the BBC researcher to wire £1,400 to a branch of the Coventry Building Society to secure the flat.

She went to the trouble of emailing both a rental contract and a passport image in the name of a German woman.

Land Registry documents showed she was not the legal owner, and all the flats in the blocks were already occupied.

The real owners of the block confirmed that “Louise” had no association with the property.

The BBC established that the fraudster had stolen the identity of a real German woman, and that the fraudster was based in this country.

A second fraudster offered a flat in Willesden at below the market rate, and urged the BBC researcher to wire £1,500 to a Halifax account.

The managing agents knew nothing of him, the property was already occupied, and while the fraudster claimed to be based in London, he was in fact using a computer in Nigeria.

In this second case, the advert had also been blocked by EasyRoomMate. The site blocks 5% of adverts each week because they are suspected to be fraudulent, while a further 1.5% are taken down after publication.

The stories were part of last night’s BBC Inside Out London.