News / South Africa

Liam Ngobeni
2 minute read
30 Oct 2018
1:05 pm

Beware the latest scam: fake estate agents

Liam Ngobeni

The scam is elaborate and the culprits even have their own 'lawyers' to draw up contracts.

Potential home buyers or tenants should make sure they are working with reputable estate agents, police told Rekord this week.

The warning came after a woman fell victim to a con artist who pretended to be an estate agent.

Police spokesperson Captain Colette Weilbach said fraudsters identified houses legitimately on the market for sale.

These houses were re-advertised on different web pages with the fraudsters’ own contact numbers.

When an interested buyer contacted them, they posed as estate agents and offered to take the caller for a viewing.

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Weilbach said the scam was elaborate and the fraudsters even had their own “lawyers” to draw up contracts.

“After the payments are made the so-called estate agent, lawyer, and the whole company disappear.”

Weilbach said the victim of such a scam recently recognised the fraudster inside a shopping centre in the east of Pretoria.

She alerted security officials who helped to arrest the culprit on a fraud charge laid earlier in the year elsewhere in Pretoria.

Weilbach advised people to make use of estate agents affiliated to a registered and familiar estate agency.

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“Ask estate agents for their Estate Agency Board and Fidelity Fund Certificates and verify it with the board, by law all estate agents are required to have these certificates.”

It was also important to verify banking details with the banks in order to establish whether a transaction was valid.

Weilbach said fraudsters often also targeted people who were looking for a place to rent.

“Often deposits are paid for accommodation that does not exist or has been rented to someone else already or the accommodation was never available to be rented out.”

She said it was important for potential home buyers or tenants to:

– Obtain as much detail as possible about rental properties.

– Get the full name, surname, and ID number of the rental agent or owner and try to verify it.

– Do not send any money or personal information without meeting the landlord or property manager or without even seeing the place.

– Be sceptical if the landlord or the agent claims to be out of the country and is unable to personally show you the property.

– Ask for a copy of the rental contract and obtain legal advice to verify its legality and try to obtain references from previous tenants.

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