Fraudsters charging to view properties in social media scam
Tenants in Telford are being scammed by people asking for money just to view a property.
The town's council issued a warning to people looking for a home to rent that the scammers replicate real social media accounts to make adverts look genuine.
The scam begins with an advertisement for a home to rent.
The properties advertised are real, but in the fake ads they do not belong to the person advertising them.
Any interested prospective tenants who reply to the ads are told that the owner is away through work or travelling, that the property can be viewed from the outside only, but they can have the keys to look inside if they pay a deposit.
Councillor David Wright, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Never pay a deposit to someone you’ve never met just to view a home.
"You will not get your money back.
"Scammers are taking advantage of peoples’ need to quickly find a home by advertising ones that are not theirs to rent, then taking money in the form of a deposit that never gets returned.
“Some of these scammers may try to ask you to send photos via social media of your identifying documents such as your passport, drivers licence or bank cards.
"My advice is to never send personal details in this way.
“There are good landlords and letting agents in the borough and many of them are accredited in a scheme such as ours where they agree to abide by a code of conduct.
“So, be wary of any message asking you to pay, just to see a home.”
Sandra Towers, Midlands representative of the National Landlords Association, said: “Rental fraud is one of the uglier aspects of private renting.
"Tenants, no matter where they are from, should not send payment to advertisers before they are certain it is genuine.
“If you receive official correspondence from a ‘landlord’ and are worried it might be a scam, often a good clue is that it will be written in poor English."
Scammers can be reported to the police via actionfraud.police.uk