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Dublin: 24°C Wednesday 10 August 2022
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Gardaí probe 'fake rental' scams on Facebook Marketplace

People have been conned out of thousands of euro.

Image: Dreamstime via PA

META IS URGING people to report any suspicious rental listings on Facebook Marketplace as gardaí probe alleged incidences of fraud on the site.

It’s understood there have been a number of victims of this scam dotted across the country. 

The latest incident was reported to gardaí based in Ennis, Co Clare. 

The fraud begins with an advert for a place to rent in Dublin at what looks to be an attractive price. 

For example, one three-bed home in the Dublin 7 area was advertised for €1,400 – around €400 less than the average rental price for a similar home.

In many of these scams, the apparent landlord tells the prospective tenants that the home previously had been rented out on short-term lets websites.

This is used as an excuse by the scammers when they do not give the keys to the tenants once the money has been sent over.

Gardaí believe the criminals are using this time to move the cash through different bank accounts, finally ending up in a foreign account which cannot be easily traced. The home does not usually exist – so the person who is scammed is left without somewhere to stay, and out of pocket as they can’t access the money sent to the scammer. 

A search of Facebook Marketplace for rentals in Dublin brings up a significant number of results, many of them being people who are trying to get a place for themselves. 

But there is a large number of people who appear to be renting out properties in Dublin for well below market price. 

For example, one seller we spotted was renting out 10 different properties here and in the UK – all for significantly lower prices than what you would expect. 

The account created to post these listings was created just four weeks previously. 

Gardaí have been alerted to the scam by several people who have been conned out of money. 

Sources have told this publication that it appears to be newly arrived immigrants who are being targeted by these scam artists. People who are familiar with the Dublin rental market would know that offers such as these are too good to be true, the source explained. 

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Gardaí have been working to crack down on illicit dealings on Facebook Marketplace. 

For example, during the first lockdown in 2020, gardaí launched an operation targeting people selling stolen goods.

There had been a significant upsurge in the theft of beauty products at the time with many of the incidents occurring in pharmacies, sources told this publication. 

A spokeswoman for Meta (which runs Facebook) said this week: “We don’t want fraudulent activity on our platforms, and we continue to invest in people and technology to remove scams.  

“We urge people to report any suspicious listings, accounts or posts to us and the Gardaí, so that we can take action.”

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