Gardaí are advising people to be wary of rental scams, particularly at this time of year when students are returning to college.
There has been an increase of 30% in accommodation fraud in 2022, in comparison with 2019 with €1,300 the median amount stolen.
The return to college timeframe (August- October) shows a spike in accommodation fraud with over 50% increase in victims of accommodation fraud aged under 25 in 2022
Gardai say €291,452 has been stolen in 2022 versus almost €250,000 in 2019.
Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Gardaí National Economic Crime Bureau gave the following advice:
“You should only use recognised letting agencies or deal with people who are bona fida and trusted.
“Websites can be cloned, check the URL to ensure it’s a real website and take note of the privacy and refund policy sections.
“Be very wary of social media advertisements or where a person letting the location will only communicate via messenger or Whatsapp.
“Watch out for unsolicited contacts or where the contact appears to be based in other jurisdictions and especially if there is a sense of urgency like “a one-time offer”.
“If you have decided to take up the offer only use trusted money transfer systems, An Garda Síochána would recommend using a credit card.
“Never transfer money direct, pay cash, pay into cryptocurrency wallets.
“Be wary if a website is asking you to send money to a random PayPal address or asking you to wire it by Western Union or pay in iTunes gift cards or ask you to pay for long-term rental accommodation via a short-term letting website or only deals in cryptocurrency.
“Most of the time, those methods are done to avoid scrutiny and ensure that a transaction can not be reversed.”