SCAMwatch is warning consumers to be on the lookout for scam online classified ads for residential and holiday rental properties.
Scammers will quote extremely low prices to gain your attention. If you show interest, you will receive a lengthy email detailing why you cannot inspect the property in person, typically because the owner is out of the country.
This scam often uses a fake copy of a genuine property advertisement to fool you. The scammer may also try to gain your trust with false but convincing copies of lease and ID documents and elaborate stories, sometimes claiming that they are carrying out humanitarian work overseas for a charity. They will typically try to trick you into giving them an upfront fee, and if you are looking for a holiday rental, may request another electronic transfer when you enter the country.
The scammer’s correspondence may be poorly written and will ask for your personal information, sometimes disguised as a rental application.
SCAMwatch urges you to be alert - scammers create elaborate stories to try and trick you into paying upfront, before you have the chance to work out that it’s a scam. NEVER provide your personal details via email - scammers will use them to steal your money or commit identity fraud.
If you send money, legitimate keys to the property will not be provided in return and your money will be gone - along with the ‘owner’.
- For residential rentals insist on inspecting the property - a drive-by is not enough. The property may genuinely exist, but it is owned by someone else.
- If you are overseas looking for an Australian holiday rental, ask someone you can trust to make inquiries. A real estate agent in the area may be able to assist.
- Search online for the address of the property, the name of the person offering the property and their email address - many scams can be identified this way.
- Where possible, avoid paying via money transfer. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
- Consider using a reputable accommodation website that offers added protection.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch.
For more information check out the money transfer requests page on SCAMwatch.
SCAMwatch has also issued the following radar on rental scams in the past: