Gardaí receives “daily reports” of housing scams in which tenants lose hundreds of euros

GARDAÍ SAYS THEY are receiving daily reports of rental scams as the country emerges from the pandemic.

Raw figures show that there have been 60 scams reported since early June, with 503 cases of scams reported to gardaí between February 2019 and May 2021, amounting to € 900,000 of theft.

42% of those affected were under 25 and almost half of the scams were based in the Dublin area.

Over the past 18 months, Gardaí has ​​observed a drop in incidents, which have been attributed to the Covid-19 restrictions.

However, Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the National Economic Crime Bureau believes Gardaí will “absolutely” see that number increase as the restrictions end.

“There will be an increase, these 500 scams occurred in a year when all college campuses were closed and no one was going on vacation abroad,” he said. The newspaper.

Gardaí said that “as housing fraud has declined in recent months due to Covid 19 restrictions”, the “new generation of third-level students looking for housing could be a target for fraudsters” .

Cryan advises students to use only recognized rental agencies or to deal with people they trust.

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“Websites can be cloned, check the URL to make sure it is a real website and take note of the privacy and refund policy sections,” Cryan said.

“Beware of ads on social media or when someone leaving the location will only communicate through Messenger or WhatsApp. You should be pushing for straightforward answers and if the answers are vague disengage immediately, ”he said.

Recent cases recorded by gardaí include:

  • A man who responded to an ad on a rental site and contacted the advertiser, who later turned out to be living in Eastern Europe, ultimately sending € 650 for an apartment on Capel Street in Dublin, which never existed;
  • Two women who hoped to rent a house in Portlaoise were ripped off on a deposit of € 800;
  • A woman living in Frankfurt who was hoping to rent in Ireland who instead got scammed by a fraudster in Poland;
  • A woman from Louth who thought she was hiring through a well-known website, which was cloned by crooks.

Individual traders

The profile of those involved in the student housing fraud is that of “localized independent traders,” Cryan said.

“He’s a guy who’s going to put the ad, take a down payment from a number of people and then run with the money. It’s pretty basic but it’s effective for making money in this climate.

“They will usually meet with the student to give him money so there will be video surveillance, and a lot of them will be identified afterwards, but unfortunately the student will still have a lot of money to lose. Once you’ve handed over the cash, it’s hard to get it back.

Cryan said potential tenants should be wary of unsolicited contact or where the contact appears to be based outside of Ireland, especially if communication comes with a sense of urgency, such as mentions of ‘a “unique offer”.

“If you’ve decided to take the offer, only use trusted money transfer systems,” Cryan said.

“I would recommend using a credit card. Never transfer money directly, pay cash, pay in cryptocurrency wallets, ”he said.

“Beware if a website asks you to send money to a random PayPal address, wire it via Western Union, pay with iTunes gift cards, or just cryptocurrency transactions. Most of the time, these methods are used to avoid scrutiny and ensure that a transaction cannot be rolled back.

Higher education institutions plan to return to campuses next month with “maximum on-site presence.”

Associations representing colleges and universities announced plans last week to make it easier for students to learn on campus through sanitation, ventilation and occupancy limits.

For many students, this will be the first time they have had classes on campus since 2020 – or their first time entirely for first and second years.

The President of the Irish Universities Association and President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said third level institutions are “determined to put in place all measures advised by public health to make the return to campus safe and sustainable for our students, our staff and for society “.

“A key part of this determination is personal and institutional responsibility and we urge all of our students to accept the offer of vaccination in time for September.”

The Round One CAD offers are expected to be released next month on September 7, four days after Leaving Certs results on the 3rd.

Additional reporting by Eoghan Dalton

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