The couple handed over the cash online as a rental bond to secure a property advertised on Gumtree.
The only problem was, the property didn’t exist. Scammers had replicated the home from a local real estate agency advertisement and posted it on Gumtree, reports the ABC.
The couple were alerted to the scam when they contacted the agency for the keys, only to find out the lease didn’t exist.
This unsuspecting pair are not alone. Over the past two years almost 200 rental scams, resulting in losses of $120,000, have been reported to the authorities, according to Scamwatch figures.
So how can you avoid being stung? Here are few tips, the ABC reports.
- Be alert to reasons why a landlord can’t meet you in person. In this case, the scammers claimed to be defence force personnel, which is reportedly a common reason offered by fraudsters.
- View properties in person and conduct transactions in person too. Scammers will prey on people who only do business online.
- Be aware that while many fraudsters use a script, some will also use slang and casual language to build a rapport and make you feel comfortable.
- And, of course, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.