Limerick renters targeted by online scam

Residents Association Chairperson Sarah Beasley

POTENTIAL renters are being warned of a scam in Limerick that left a young man out of pocket by more than €3,000.

Aontú National Secretary and local representative Sarah Beasley told the Limerick Post that she was contacted by a college student in his early twenties whose  money taken and unlikely to be recovered.

“The rental market in Limerick is very challenging. There are only 20 properties across the whole of the county with seven of those in the city environs. These shortages are pushing prices up to record levels,” the Rhebogue woman explained.

And, according to the Aontú representative, the scam started on property website

“A property is uploaded with details, photos and prices. The property itself is genuine but the property is not owned by the poster. The property is priced slightly below market value, which gives the impression of a genuine price but a bit of a bargain. This tempts people to act fast,” she explained.

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“The scammer directs people to lodge money to a ‘secure’ location operated by a trustworthy financial establishment. The scammer says that this is to sort the genuinely interested renters from ‘time wasters’, the house seeker is assured that money will be returned if they fail to get the property.”

The bogus house owner sends the unsuspecting potential renter a link pertaining to be from a genuine financial establishment. In fact it is a fake website designed to look exactly like the genuine one.

“Always keep a close eye and check the URL to any link. This is the key to making sure the website is genuine and not fraudulent,” Ms Beasley warned.

Contacted by the Limerick Post, the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) advised that before engaging in a financial transaction, you should 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”.