Online scams are on the rise and one state body is warning property managers that it is a problem that will not be going away.
Adam Edwards from Western Australia’s ScamNet told Residential Property Manager that property managers were limited in what they could do to protect themselves and their clients.
“The only real way that we’ve figured you can limit this happening is for agents and property managers to watermark their photos with a business watermark,” he said.
“We have expressed that to the real estate industry in WA but it’s still not fool proof because they can crop the photos to remove the watermark.
“Unfortunately, even though agents and property managers are involved, there are no repercussions for them except the annoyance of getting calls from people who have been speaking to these scammers, or their clients who have had victims of these scams turn up at their door thinking they will be moving in.”
Mr Edwards said the approach ScamNet was taking was to educate consumers to be more aware of the existence of fake rental property ads.
“When you’re dealing with a rental situation, you need to be following the proper protocols. We always recommend that prospective renters deal with landlords and property managers at the residence," he said.
“Never pay a bond if you haven’t spoken to the approved property manager or landlord, and obviously never send money via wire transfer or bank transfer to a person you’ve never met."
Last month, Residential Property Manager reported on two cases of fake property listings being promoted on classifieds websites.
Harcourts GC Central principal Cassandra Stephens recently discovered one of her rental properties advertised on Gumtree, after a prospective tenant had responded to the ad and been pressured to pay two weeks’ bond before seeing the property.
Property manager at Melbourne Property Solutions Ashley Vella was alerted to a similar incident when her tenant was visited by people wanting to inspect the property.
ScamNet’s tips for tenants
Tenants can protect themselves from scammers by following these tips:
- Meet prospective landlords face-to-face or go through a property management agency
- Don’t rely on photos - physically see and inspect the property
- NEVER wire transfer money to secure a rental because the payment method is untraceable