Friends lose €2,600 in rental property scam | #socialmedia

Amy Gibbons and two friends were delighted last week when they found a listing on a property website for a house in Galway city that looked pretty decent. It was within their price range and they were even more relieved when the landlord made contact and confirmed the house was still available to rent.

But their delight and relief turned to dismay and horror within 48 hours after they handed over more than €2,500 to secure the property only to find out they had fallen victim to an elaborate scam.

They are not the only ones to have suffered at the hands of scam artists exploiting the housing crisis and others appear to have been conned by criminals who have been advertising multiple bogus properties on legitimate websites.

The scam artists use pictures of properties pulled indiscriminately from the internet as bait and are also relying on Covid-19 restrictions to lend legitimacy to their crimes.

“The lease on our house is up so we were looking for somewhere to live for the start of June,” Gibbons says.

“We saw this house and made contact with the landlord. He told us the house was still available and suggested we talk through the details on WhatsApp and we said ‘sound’ ”.

Over WhatsApp messages they were asked for details of where they worked, proof of earnings and ID – all things which are commonly asked of prospective tenants.

“We gave all our details and that was that,” Gibbons says. “We have to move out of our house this weekend so we were very relieved to have found somewhere to live.”

The landlord identifying himself as “Lauren O’Sullivan” explained that while he owned the house in Galway, he could not show it to them in person because he was abroad and could not travel to Ireland as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

“He said that to make the transaction more secure for them and us, we could carry out the transaction on Airbnb. I have done long term rentals on Airbnb before so I thought it was fine.

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