Action Fraud is warning the public that fraudsters are posing as landlords to trick people into paying upfront rent into Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

According to Action Fraud, 28 reports were made to the reporting service between December 2018 and February 2019, amounting to a total loss of £19,990.

Reports made to Action Fraud claim fraudsters are posing as genuine landlords of rental properties available online. Before viewing the property, the fraudster convinces the potential tenant to pay a deposit. Incredibly, in some cases reported to the service, victims have been asked to pay a whole month’s rent upfront. The fraudsters claim the money is protected by Tenancy Deposit Scheme and the money is safeguarded under Government legislation.

Once the victim has paid the money, the fraudster sends a bogus email claiming to be from Tenancy Deposit Scheme, confirming they have received their deposit. Victims later discover that the money has disappeared along with their new home they were hoping to move into.

Pauline Smith, Director of Action Fraud said: “Devious fraudsters are targeting a whole host of victims, from university students to professionals, for their own selfish gain. Falling victim to rental fraud can have a huge impact on your finances at a crucial time where every penny counts. This is why it’s important to follow our advice to protect yourself. If you think you have been a victim, report it to us.”

Action Fraud Recommends the following to protect yourself:

  •  Always make sure you have a reliable contract, has viewed the property with an agent or landlord before agreeing to rent a property.
  • Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Only transfer funds when you’re satisfied a genuine property, safety certificates and valid contract are in place.
  • Only pay for goods or service by bank transfer if you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud.
  • Once you’ve paid your deposit, you can check whether it’s protected by entering your tenancy deposit certificate code on TDS website.
  • Report it – If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
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