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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019
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Brazilian couple tricked out of €1,000 in new rental scam in north inner city Dublin

The couple said they signed a legitimate-looking lease.

Smithfield Square.
Smithfield Square.
Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

GARDAÍ ARE PROBING a new rental scam targeting Brazilian and other immigrants which has seen a number of people conned out of significant amounts of money in Dublin city centre.

One Brazilian couple has contacted gardaí in Dublin’s north inner city after he and his girlfriend were tricked to pay out €1,000. 

They had met with somebody purporting to be renting an apartment in the Smithfield area last week and believed they had completed a deal which would see the couple move in the following week. They were told they had to wait for the current tenant to leave. 

The deposit was handed over in cash and what they described as ‘a legitimate-looking lease’ was signed. 

However, when the week passed, the couple called the alleged scammer and asked when the tenant was going to move out as they were due to leave their home and would have nowhere to stay if there were a delay. They were promised that the man was vacating the property in the next 48 hours. 

The man then stopped taking the calls despite his number and social media still being active. The couple TheJournal.ie spoke to said they have reported the incident to gardaí. as they want to warn other people.

The couple has photographs of the man who has taken their money and they have been given to gardaí. 

Meanwhile, gardaí have urged all prospective tenants to be cautious when entering a new lease and to never hand over cash as it is untraceable.

A spokesman said: “We would advise before engaging in a financial transaction to pay down a deposit and/or rent, that you see the property first and establish that the person renting it owns and has access to the property. It is advisable to use an ESCROW account where possible to ensure funds are not released until you are certain that it is a legitimate transaction.

“Where you believe you have been a victim of such a fraud, please report to your local Garda station/police station if you reside outside Ireland.”

Rental scams generally fall into three broad categories:

  • the scammer claims to be out of the country and can’t show you the property and requests a deposit
  • the scammer is living at the property and shows a number of people around, gets a deposit from several people and disappears with the money;
  • the transaction appears normal until the renter finds that the keys don’t work and the landlord has disappeared. Therefore people need to establish that the house exists and that is available for rent

Housing charity Threshold has also warned against rental scams and offered people advice on what to do if they suspect something is too good to be true. 

Spokesman John-Mark McCafferty said rental scams occur throughout the year and there are a number of things people should look out for.

He said: “We strongly advise people to be cautious of a landlord who claims to be out of the country and can’t show you the property and requests a deposit. Would-be renters should also be mindful that in some instances a scammer could be living at the property and showing a number of people around, getting a deposit from several people and then disappearing with the money.

“In other instances, the transaction appears normal until the renter finds that the keys don’t work and the ‘landlord’ has disappeared. People need to establish that the house exists, that it is available for rent, the identity of the landlord /agent and that the person advertising the property is authorised to rent it out.”

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