Ahead of next month's expected return to on-campus education, gardaí are advising people, particularly students, to be wary of rental scams.
While accommodation-related fraud offences have declined in recent months due to Covid-19 restrictions, gardaí are concerned the new generation of third-level students seeking accommodation could be a target for fraudsters.
According to gardai, 503 cases of rental scams, relating to the theft of more than €900,000, were reported between February 1, 2019 and May 31 2021.
Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Gardaí National Economic Crime Bureau says those seeking accommodation should only use recognised letting agencies or deal with people who are bona fida and trusted.
"Websites can be cloned, check the URL to ensure it’s a real website and take note of the privacy and refund policy sections," he said.
"Be very wary of social media advertisements or where a person letting the location will only communicate via messenger or WhatApp. You should push for direct answers and if responses are vague disengage immediately," he added.
Potential renters are being urged to watch out for unsolicited contacts or where the contact appears to be based in other jurisdictions and especially if there is a sense of urgency like "a one-time offer”.
"If you have decided to take up the offer only use trusted money transfer systems, I would recommend using a credit card. Never transfer money direct, pay cash, pay into cryptocurrency wallets," said Det Supt Cryan.
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