Preventing scams and keeping you safe online

Landlords and tenants are targeted by different online scams.

Scam affecting estate agents, landlords and B&Bs

A common version of this rental scam is where a scammer under forged identity pretends to book accommodation before coming to the region. Later the scammer asks the victim (estate agent, B&B or landlord) to charge their credit or debit card a sum to cover accommodation costs. The forged identity can be a doctor, lawyer or a business person to add credibility.

The credit card is stolen from another unsuspecting victim. Another version of this scam uses fake check. Scammer may ask to charge the full amount in smaller batches, so bank is less likely to notice outgoing transactions.

Finally, the scammer will ask to transfer or partially refund a large amount to a 3rd account. This way landlords are used to funnel money to Chinese and other bank accounts out of reach of chargebacks.

Stolen cards will chargeback on the victim’s account causing a large financial loss to the landlord, estate agent or B&B.

These attacks seem to sprout up soon after high profile leaks of customer data. E.g. when Microsoft and Sony were hacked.

What to do?

Do not charge the stolen card under any circumstances, it would chargeback sooner or later.

Respond to the scammer pretending you charged the card successfully in batches like they asked. You can say that the last transaction was declined to make it sound more credible. Be creative. It’s your turn to have fun.

Now they will try calling to chase you the transaction to their 3rd account. You can do some research into the bank account provided and call the bank to report the account involved in fraud... We found the banks protective of their fraudster customer and uncooperative, but at one instance managed to score 30+ missed calls from the scammer and waisted a couple of days of their time. That’s good, while they waste their time providing ridiculous proofs of identity for us, they can’t harm anyone else, plus banks and owners of those stolen cards have more time to block them.

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Advice for tenants and flatmates

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