Tenancy deposit email scam duping tenants out of thousands
It’s been revealed that fraudsters are targeting vulnerable tenants during the deposit payment stage of the letting process, with the Islington Gazette reporting one couple were conned out of £1,385.
Full article here.
Jessica Redman and her partner found a rental property via a local letting agent and were then contacted via email by a ‘member of staff’ who was dealing with the rental. Although the email address was slightly different from previous exchanges with the agent, the couple made payment to the provided bank details without checking the validity of the communication.
The agent has since stated they would not reimburse the couple.
Please find comment on the issue below from Matthew Hooker of Ome, the deposit alternative.
Co-founder of Ome, Matthew Hooker, commented:
“Unfortunately the rental sector presents an open door for opportunistic fraudsters to take advantage of those that are often in a vulnerable position. This is largely due to the speed at which a tenant must act to secure a property due to a lack of rental stock available, which is often coupled with a sense of desperation for those that need a roof over their head quickly whether it be for work or other life factors.
As a result, we can be caught off-guard and susceptible to tricks during the payment of a deposit in particular, that we may otherwise have flagged, and with the cost of a deposit already a substantial financial hurdle for many, losing this sum to criminals can be devastating.
While traditional deposit protection schemes do a great job of safeguarding a tenant’s money during a tenancy, they can’t address issues that occur prior to payment to either a landlord or agent. We really need to work as an industry to provide more alternative, safer channels to help tenants secure a property while remaining in their control of their money and this one area that deposit replacement schemes help address.
Not only do they address the cash flow issues a larger initial deposit can pose, but they also require much smaller regular payments, meaning anyone that does find themselves foul of criminal activity is out of pocket to a much smaller sum.”