Tenants saved by existing landlord in fake landlord scam

by Property 118

13:16 PM, 25th September 2017
About A year ago

Tenants saved by existing landlord in fake landlord scam

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Tenants saved by existing landlord in fake landlord scam

A fake landlord used Facebook to copy and paste property details and pictures from a rental listing on Rightmove and scammed prospective tenants from Plymouth out of £1,200.

Jenny Foster-Mitchell, who was taken in by the imposter, reported to the local paper The Herald (click here to see article) saying:

“The house was listed at £600 per calendar month including bills. It looked perfect. We got in touch at the end of August by commenting on the post.

“We didn’t get a reply straight away so we sent a direct message to the landlord on Facebook asking for more details. We got a message back giving us more details and letting us know that pets were welcome in the house, which was perfect for us.”

When Jenny asked to view the property she was told the agents had the keys, but she could go and visit the property with her partner to look at from the outside

Jenny said: “She (the imposter) said we could go and have a look at it through the windows to see if it was what we wanted. “We went and had a look at it and it was exactly the same as the photos.

“We were very keen to find somewhere new and we liked it so we were happy to go ahead with it. We were sent a tenancy agreement which we completed and sent back. Everything seemed normal.”

Jenny and her partner agreed to pay one month’s rent and one month’s deposit in advance to secure the property.

However the imposter then got greedy and asked Jenny to pay £400 for maintenance before they move in.

Jenny reported: “I was thinking, we shouldn’t have to pay for maintenance, and this was even written into the tenancy agreement we had signed, but then she threatened to add the bills to the monthly rent so we agreed.

“At this point we were getting wary, but we were so desperate to get out. We had made all of the other payments through online bank transfer, but this time she wanted us to use MoneyGram.

“We did attempt to make the £400 maintenance payment but MoneyGram wouldn’t release it, thank god, until I spoke to them to confirm the details.

“Shortly after this, we decided to search for the property and came across it on Rightmove. That is when it all unravelled.

Jenny contacted Martin & Co the listing agent who confirmed that the name of the fake landlord they had been dealing with did not match the name that they had.

“We confronted the woman (imposter) and she said that she didn’t like not being trusted and then blocked us.”

However, after giving notice on their existing property the current landlord came to the rescue.

“Thankfully our current landlord allowed us to retract our notice. They have been brilliant throughout this ordeal and have really helped us.”

Director at Martin & Co, Chris Whitaker told The Herald: “In this particular instance, we were made aware by the victim of this ‘scam’ and that some of our marketing images had been extracted from our website and used without consent on Facebook by an individual purporting to be the landlord.

“We immediately recommended that the tenant contact the police to report the incident and have also sought to identify other potential options to support the victim in finding alternative accommodation. Unfortunately this type of property scam is becoming increasingly common throughout Devon.

“Our advice to all potential tenants is to be extremely cautious when it comes to passing money to unregulated agents or landlords who are able to act anonymously and with relative impunity through various internet sites and online forums.

“Tenants should instead seek to use regulated agents who are members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents and members of a government approved Client Money Protection scheme.”

A lesson for due dilligence, but a partial good news story in the end.

 



Comments

Monty Bodkin

14:58 PM, 25th September 2017
About A year ago

Or just pay three quid and check the ownership on land registry.

Dylan Morris

16:17 PM, 25th September 2017
About A year ago

Hindsight is a wonderful thing I know, but surely not being able to view the inside of the property because the landlord doesn't have any keys should have set alarm bells ringing. Who on earth signs up to rent a property without having a good look at the interior ? And the property being found on, and communicating with the landlord via Facebook !

Annie Landlord

18:00 PM, 25th September 2017
About A year ago

From the point of view of a landlord yes, the tenant does appear naive. But half the population seems to conduct its business via fb these days, and I very much doubt if the average person is aware that property ownership can be checked through Land Registry.

zoe

23:20 PM, 25th September 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Dylan Morris at 25/09/2017 - 16:17
Why not use FB as a marketing tool? It's free and extremely effective! I have rented all of my properties through local pages on FB. It doesn't stop you carrying out all the usual checks and is no different to advertising in the local paper, except it reaches a far wider audience for free! It was naive of the tenant not to do their due diligence, but it would be very short-sighted of landlords in this day not to consider FB as a useful tool.


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