A FRENCH student has become the latest victim of accommodation fraud after being duped by a con artist posing as a Cork-based landlord.
Gardaí recently met with a female college student who was cheated out of €3115, which she believed was a deposit for an apartment coupled with two month’s rent.
A man claiming to be the landlord of a Cork property had reached out to the student after she posted a message via a social media platform seeking accommodation. After making contact with the so-called landlord - who claimed to be French-Irish and had a French phone number - she transferred €3115 into a French bank account.
However, on arriving at the residence she was told there was no record of that landlord.
Gardaí say that college students are particularly vulnerable to accommodation fraud. Some 50pc of victims to date this year were aged under 25 years old. 55pc of those conned were female. It brings the total amount stolen this year to €291,452 in contrast to €250,000 in 2019.
Some 26 incidents of accommodation fraud were reported in the Cork City Division to-date in 2022 with a reported loss to injured parties of €60,000.
Other victims included a student embarking on an Erasmus exchange to Spain, who lost €1,500 to a similar scam. A previous scam in May saw a person seeking a holiday home in Portugal lose €8,720 through a fraudulent site. An incident in June involving the purchase of holiday accommodation resulted in the loss of €10,000 for another fraud victim.
A Google search of the company name found that previous incidents of fraudulent activity had been reported by others.
There were two separate incidents in Cork City whereby students paid out €2,200 - with €1,200 paid by another student- as a deposit for the same premises in Cork that did not exist. Another injured party paid €2,824 as a deposit for a property after the house had been sold to new owners.
Gardaí are advising people to exercise caution when a landlord is unable to meet to view a property and when communication is restricted to text messages and social media platforms. Requests to pay cash, cryptocurrency or money via a non-bank transfer (such as wire transfer) can also be red flags.
If you suspect fraudulent activity contact Gardaí on 021-4522000 or your local Garda station.