10:04 AM, 27th May 2011, About 11 years ago
Fraud investigators are warning landlords to watch out for crooks trying to cheat them out of cash.
The overseas gangs are targeting buy to let and holiday let landlords with variations of a common fee scam.
The fraudsters will contact landlords to make a corporate booking – often for a charity or religious organisation.
The email is rambling, written in poor English and generally explains that the prospective tenants are looking for a long booking to make the property a base for business in the area.
The sting comes from overpaying the cost of rental.
Landlords are left out of pocket
The landlord receives a cheque for payment that is for more than tohe total rental cost and is the asked to return the excess cash by electronic transfer as the fraudster is short of funds and the payee mistakenly included expenses in the rental amount.
In most cases, the landlord makes the transfer and never hears from the tenant, while the payment cheque bounces and leaves the property business out of pocket.
“Home owners are therefore warned to be wary if they receive a higher payment for their property and are subsequently asked for a refund,” says the government’s Action Fraud web site.
Action Fraud is also warning property investors about get-rich-scheme buy to let schemes that promise to make them a millionaire overnight.
The typical Buy to Let fraud involves an unsolicited invitation to a presentation explaining how to make money from investing in property. At the presentation, they will ask for money to sign up for a seminar or course promising to teach you the secrets of becoming a property millionaire.
“You might be offered the opportunity to buy properties at a discount that aren’t yet built. You might think property investment is a fast way to get rich quickly, so you invest your savings,” says Action Fraud.
“What you don’t know is that the land is either agricultural or derelict. In many cases, it’s unsuitable for development, or is bound to have planning permission refused and you will lose all the money you invested.”
Another property con is buy-to-let fraud, claims Action Fraud, where companies offer to source, renovate and manage rental homes, claiming good returns from rental income. In reality, the properties are near-derelict and the tenants do not exist.