Police warning over fake landlords and letting agent scammers in Doncaster

Police in Doncaster have issued a warning over bogus landlords in Doncaster letting out homes that don’t exist in exchange for cash.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 11:14 am
Updated Friday, 17th September 2021, 3:34 pm

South Yorkshire Police’s Fraud Co-ordination Team says it has been receiving a higher than average number of reports from Action Fraud about would-be tenants being targeted by fraudsters.

Rental fraud is when people are tricked into paying an upfront fee to rent a property. In reality, the property does not exist, has already been rented out, or has been rented to multiple victims at the same time.

PC Vicki Arrowsmith said: "This is an emerging trend in South Yorkshire at the moment. Victims are making enquiries in relation to properties advertised on social media and then contacting the fraudster directly via email, phone or direct messages.

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Scammers are advertising properties on social media that are already let.

"Once they agree to rent the property, they are sent a tenancy agreement via email. The victim transfers a deposit to confirm the agreement and is given a move-in date - however when they get there the property is either already rented out or the occupants have lived at the address for a number of years.

"The victims try to contact the landlord, however all the phone numbers are disconnected and the advert has disappeared.

"It can be incredibly difficult to trace those responsible for this horrible scam and get the money back. That's why it's so important everyone spreads the word about this scam to prevent others from becoming victims."

If you think you have been a victim of rental fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or report online at actionfraud.police.uk.

• Do not send money to anyone advertising rental properties online until you are certain the advertiser is genuine.

• If you need to secure accommodation in the UK from overseas, seek the help of the employer or university you are coming to, or get a friend, contact or relative to check the property exists and is available.

• Do not pay any money until you or a reliable contact has visited the property with an agent or the landlord.

• Ask for copies of tenancy agreements and any safety certificates such as gas, electricity or HMO licence.