26 May 2022

Thousands of euro ‘cruelly taken’ from Limerick student in rent scam

Cash-back mortgages - gimmick or great deal?

Around €3,000 was handed over

A LIMERICK student was left “feeling foolish” after being cheated out of several thousand euro in a sophisticated accommodation scam.

The scam, which targeted prospective renters looking to find a room to rent in Limerick city, is one of 503 that were reported nationally to An Garda Siochána in the last three years.

Aontú National Secretary Sarah Beasley said the TUS student who fell victim to the rental scam, was “distraught” after €3,000 worth of his hard-earned money was “cruelly taken.”

The man, aged in his early 20s, first made contact with what he thought was a landlord in Limerick city, who directed him to lodge money to a “secure location” operated by a “trustworthy” bank.

Ms Beasley said: “The scammer says that this is to sort the genuinely interested renters from ‘time wasters’, the house seeker is assured that money will be returned if they fail to get the property.”

The “sophisticated scam” then activates once the fake house owner sends a link, pretending to be a from a real website, in this case, the well-known rental space

The criminal then takes the money under the guise of this secure location. In this case, the student was unable to recover any of the money he had transferred over.

Divisional Crime Prevention Officer for Limerick Sergeant Ber Leetch told the Limerick Leader that the faster you contact your financial institution, the better chance you give yourself in recovering your lost finances.

“The main advice here is that students should only use recognised letting agencies or deal with people they know that are bona fide and trusted.”

She stressed the importance of checking the URL of the website, to avoid cloned sites and to take note of the privacy and refund policy section.

“It’s always better to meet the landlord in person,” she explained, adding that prospective renters need to be wary of communicating on social media and messaging apps.

Major red flags can be identified in cash-only meet ups or a sense or urgency or pressure being exerted on the potential tenant.

Sgt Leetch mentioned one case, where a young woman turned up at a residential property in Caherdavin, to meet a landlord. After a man answered and assured her that the property was in fact, not for rent, he alerted gardaí in Henry Street.

“People are so desperate for accommodation now in Limerick that they jump on anything. Make sure the person has the deeds to the house and that the keys do in fact fit.

“If it seems too good to be true, then it definitely is,” Sgt Leetch concluded.

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