Gardai have detected approximately 120 reports of Accommodation Fraud in the first 5 months of 2019 – some related to Irish citizens renting holiday apartments but the vast majority relate to incidents in Ireland.
There has been an increase in May 2019, during which almost 40 cases being reported
Accommodation Fraud is where the victim pays money to rent a property that does not exist, or exists but is not up for rent, or the victim makes a hotel or guest house reservation only to find that hotel/guesthouse does not exist or that the no reservation was made.
Gardai have issued the following information and advice to the public:
A property is advertised for rent, and the potential tenant pays a deposit or 1st month’s rent in advance, typically without actually seeing or visiting the property.
Photographs of the property online are false.
Address of the property is advertised, but it may not exist at all – check the Eircode.
The fraudster is living in the property and shows a number of people the property, gets a deposit from several people and then disappears with the money.
In other cases, the transaction appears normal until the renter finds that the keys do not work and the landlord has disappeared.
Owner of the property is unable to meet with the renter to show the house – often claiming that they had to move abroad at short notice and want to rent their home while they are away.
The owner puts pressure on the renter to pay a deposit in advance, before meeting or viewing the property
The owner asks for a deposit in advance and provides a bank account for a bank located outside Ireland.
How to protect yourself
Do not transfer money online until you are 100% certain that the receiver is genuine
Do not pay a deposit, until you have met the owner and viewed the house
If transferring to a bank account, do an IBAN validation check to see determine the Bank and the branch location.
Make your own enquiries - do not rely on information provided by the owner of the house, their website or other information they supply online – do not rely on referees the owner recommends to you
Be wary of persons seeking money in advance via money transfer services
Use reputable websites and agents.