BEWARE: Scammers use Facebook rental ads to dupe tenants
RENTERS looking for a place to live should take extra care before handing over money for a private lease after scammers targeted Toowoomba.
Three potential renters phoned Blackbird and Finch principal Simone Files after they saw one of her client's Newtown properties listed on Facebook as a private lease, for well below the market rate.
"All three got suspicious when they were asked to fill in a very basic application form, deposit money into his bank account and he would then send the lease and the keys to them," she said.
He had an elaborate story about why he could not meet for an inspection but still asked for a deposit upfront.
However, the man on the end of the line was not the owner and had ripped photos off a realestate.com.au listing.
Ms Files said the scammer spoke at length with his potential victims and provided them with a fake Northern Territory driver's licence and bank account details linked to an NAB branch in Tasmania.
"Thankfully they did some checks and ended up talking to me," she said.
"I am worried that for each person that contacted me there is one that has not."
While this was the first time one of Ms Files' listings had been used to defraud renters, she said other agents have had the same treatment.
Toowoomba's rental vacancy rate sits at 0.8 per cent, its lowest rates in recent years, and Ms Files said this made renters easy prey for scammers.
She manages about 240 properties and only one is vacant now.
"People are desperate for a rental because there is a lack of stock out there," Ms Files said.
"They are looking at all sorts of ways to get a home but if you are not savvy enough you could get duped."
Ms Files urged residents to inspect any privately leased rentals and ensure the person they will hand the deposit to owns the house.
Also, ask for a copy of a rates notice and a driver's licence to confirm ownership.