The Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) has called on a leading classified online listings service to issue clear guidance over possible scams involving bogus letting scams.
A warning was issued to Gumtree by the RLA after fraudsters posed online as landlords to post ads on the site asking for money in exchange for property viewings.
In certain cases, the advertisements posted online show affordable and attractive dwellings. However, when potential tenants attempt to arrange a viewing, they are told that the landlords lives a long way away and that they must provide a deposit in order to secure a viewing. Sometimes, these fees cost £1,500!
The criminals behind these scams have cloned websites’ logos, including that of the RLA’s Deposit Guard Scheme. As such, the schemes look genuine to would-be tenants.
Once tenants pay cash for their fake viewing, they never hear from the fraudsters again and their money is lost.
To stop more innocent renters becoming victims, the RLA has now contacted Gumtree demanding visible warnings on its website.
‘Often, the victims in this type of fraud are young foreign students, who have limited knowledge of how the rental market works in the UK,’ said a spokesperson for the RLA. ‘The fact that our DepositGuard logo is being used in this manner is something we are taking extremely seriously and we have approached Gumtree asking for clear warnings about scams of this type to be included on its website,’ they added.
Any victims of this kind of fraud are being advised to call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.