Even though some scams are easy to spot, some are extremely sophisticated and scammers will go as far as to create fake online profiles and a believable digital footprint to fool unsuspecting victims.
Of late, particularly in Randburg, Johannesburg, according to one source, we were told: “These fake agents are from the Gumtree and OLX websites. They download property images from sites like Property24 and mark them with lower prices from the one given. When a prospective tenant calls, they ask for a deposit before viewing. Some will refuse. The scammer then shifts to asking you to call the genuine agent from Property24 and will tell you not to disclose you have spoken to them first.
“When you call the Property24-listed agent, they will indeed confirm the place and give you their higher amount, which then leads to the wannabe tenant going back to the scammer, who has a lesser price. Boom, you pay, and all your hard-earned cash is gone,” she warned.
It is alleged these fake agents also randomly take any images of properties not even on sale or for rent and dupe people by using those too.
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Properties then get advertised for rental, usually at very low rates, only for hopeful tenants to find out the property does not belong to the advertiser.
The Citizen contacted Property24 to find out if they were aware of these scams (they are) and what advice they could give:
“People are advised never to hand over money without signing a lease. If the person advertising the property won’t allow you to see the premises before renting it, chances are it’s a scam. There are ‘landlords’ claiming that they were ‘travelling overseas’ but the potential tenant should feel free to walk around the property and take a peek through the windows – that is definitely a warning sign and you should avoid handing over a deposit.
“We have to educate ourselves about common scams that are doing the rounds, and always report suspicious activity.”
– Caxton News Service