The use of fraudulent credit cards, driver's licences and Medicare cards to secure rental properties for criminal activity is on the rise, according to detectives in Victoria.
At a recent CENTURY 21 seminar, designed to tackle crime in rental properties, a room of property managers, sales agents and principals heard from two St Kilda Crime Investigation Unit detectives about how criminals were becoming increasingly organised when attempting to gain a rental lease on long- and short-term properties.
According to CENTURY 21’s Victoria state manager, Chris McKearney, who organised the event, this year Victorian police have closed down 78 clandestine drug labs in rental properties in greater Melbourne and country Victoria.
“These are organised criminals who use very advanced means of fraud to trick property managers into allowing them to rent these properties,” he told Residential Property Manager.
“Often there will be a representative who will pose as the tenant. They will normally be well spoken and well dressed, often a male and female couple."
According to Mr McKearney, the criminals will take an existing identity and alter it only slightly. For example, a driver's licence with a number ‘16743955’ would be changed by just one number ‘26743955’.
“They make a slight change, so everything else appears to be normal. This is called ghosting and it is done very professionally," he said.
“The detectives showed a fake ID and we compared it with our real IDs, and you could hardly tell the difference.
“They then pointed out things that show they are fraudulent, like a difference in logo.”
Mr McKearney has encouraged other principals and network groups to educate their property managers on this rising issue around the country.
“It is an ongoing issue and we are going to maintain vigilance on it,” he said
“I hope that other networks will take heed of this as well and take action. I think every property manager should be educated on this.”