ISLANDERS ‘desperate for housing’ are being targeted by scammers on Facebook with some victims losing their savings and one family even being made homeless as a result.
States police have issued a warning about rental property scams being advertised on the social media platform which have already conned Islanders out of £22,000.
They said scammers were advertising properties to rent, and ‘are targeting those who are desperate for housing, and includes families with young children and people without housing qualifications’.
Investigating officer Faith Shalamon said: ‘Some of these victims have lost all their savings, and one family were made homeless by giving notice on their home, believing they were moving into the new rental property. The emotional impact on the people caught up in this scam has been very traumatic for them.
‘Anyone interested in moving into a property should never part with any money until they have seen any advertised property in person and met with the landlord or estate agent.’
States police said people were being enticed by below average rental prices being advertised and the scamming process involved:
– After they have communicated with the scammer online, usually by Facebook messenger, they are told they need to make a deposit payment to secure the property.
– The scammer will say there is a lot of interest in the advertised property and the interested party must pay the deposit before they can view the property to secure it, which can often be a month’s rent.
– After the transfer of funds has taken place, the scammer just disappears and cannot be contacted.
The Joint Financial Crimes Unit within the force is dealing with 26 separate complaints of fraud relating to these property scams, linked to false Facebook profiles, with the total financial loss so far £22,000/
Jersey residents are still being targeted, according to police, who believe many of the incidents are being carried out by the same person.
Anyone who thinks they may be a victim of a rental/property scam should report it to police on 01534 612612:
Safety tips to keep yourself safe from rental scams:
– Never hand over cash without viewing a property in person
– Always meet the landlord or agent in person
– Check out any agent’s credentials
– Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics
– If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is