The RLA has issued a warning after fraudsters posing as landlords posted ads on Gumtree and other websites asking for cash in exchange for viewings.
The online advertisements often show a very attractive and affordable flat. But when prospective tenants call to arrange a viewing they are typically told that the landlord lives far way, sometimes abroad and that they must provide a deposit to secure a viewing – a figure usually in the region of £1,500.
The fraudsters behind these scams have cloned logos of websites including the RLA’s DepositGuard scheme so if prospective tenants make cursory checks the schemes look genuine.
However once the cash has been paid they never hear from the scammers again.
The RLA is taking the fraud extremely seriously and has spoken to Gumtree demanding visible warnings on the website to stop more renters becoming victims.
Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the RLA said: “We would like to make it clear that no genuine landlord will ever ask for money to secure a viewing.
“Often the victims in this type of fraud are young foreign students, who have limited knowledge of how the rental market works in the UK.
“The fact that our DepositGuard logo is being used in this manner is something we are taking extremely seriously and we have approached Gumtree asking for clear warnings about scams of this type to be included on its website.”
If you think you have become a victim of a scam of this kind contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.