Potential renters in Spalding are being warned of too-good-to-be-true rates and terms after “cruel” scammers stole property details online and demanded deposits.
Tracey Boyton, office manager at Ark Property in Spalding, said three people had been in touch last week after an Ark-managed property had been listed on a Facebook group at a lower rate and as a pet-friendly dwelling – a letting rarity.
“Somebody on Facebook is pretending to be a landlord. They’ve pinched our description and photos off Rightmove and posted it on Facebook,” said Tracey. The scammers contact would-be tenants via Facebook and text message, saying they are working out of the country so can’t do the viewing, but the property can be viewed from the outside.
“It was first brought to our attention when the people she sent round to view knocked on the door of the property. We’ve still got tenants in the property who got in touch with us and asked why we sent people round.” Ark then had people visiting the office who saw the property was also listed on Rightmove but at a different price.
The most recent visitor to the office almost sent a £600 deposit to the scammers, who had sent her a legitimate-looking tenancy agreement.
“This poor young girl said she was just about to send her money but they were really hassling her so she told them she was unwell just to get them off her case.”
She then went to Ark to check up on the agreement.
“She thought she was moving in at the end of the week,” said Tracey.
“They’re targeting people who are unemployed, people who wouldn’t normally get past a letting agent’s reference checks and are just a little bit desperate,” she added.
“I know it’s difficult for people who perhaps are unemployed and it’s a lot of money to raise to move in but you’ve got to try to save up and go through an agent. Or failing that, be aware of who you’re dealing with.”
Ark reported the bogus Facebook profile – which was a member of scores of national and international rental groups – to the police.