It has been reported by the Rekord Centurion
, that property fraud in Centurion
has seen a massive spike in recent months. Screengrab of an older, similar scam (Image via Rekord Centurion)
In two days, eight different cases had been reported at the Lyttelton police station and according to Warrant Officer Hero Gumbu they were all online rental scams.
Gumbu said that the scams all involve actual homes in residential complexes being advertised as ‘for rent.’
“Scammers simply ‘copy and paste’ other ads and add their own details to the fake ad. One of the scammers who targeted multiple people went by the name Jazmine.”
The rise in demand for rental property in Centurion has created easy targets for these scammers, who prey on those who are urgently looking for accommodation. Victims are told that they need to pay their first month’s rent and deposit quickly as there are potential tenants who are interested in the same property.
The scammers act under the pretense of being an intermediary between the owners and/or residents of the property in question. A number is given to the potential tenants under false claim of being that of the owner or resident, however the number belongs to that of the co-conspirator of the fraudster.
As soon as the victim calls the number, the “owner” informs them that they cannot show them the property right away as they are not in town. The fraudster then calls the person back a few days later with the request for the deposit and first month’s rent, as they will lose the option to rent to another interested party if they don’t pay quickly.
As soon as the deposit is paid, the scammer disappears.
“These fraudsters don’t use their bank account. They ask the person looking to rent to make the money available to them from their own bank account. This is why we cannot trace a bank account, because there aren’t any.”
He advised people looking to rent to be extremely cautious when responding to online rental advertisements.
“Do not ever pay the deposit or rent for a place you haven’t seen for yourself or confirmed that you are dealing with the correct people, such as registered estate agents.”
He called on anyone who suspects they might be dealing with a scammer or who has fallen victim to a fraudulent advertisement to report it to their nearest police station.