New warning to Irish students on housing fraud scams ahead of the new semester and what to watch out for

Irish students returning to university are warned to be extremely careful with accommodation fraud as they sort out their place of residence before classes start.

Especially those who are trying to figure out where they will be living at the last minute – always take the time to make sure you aren’t fooled out of cash and a place to live.

Gardai has repeatedly issued warnings about the scams that continue to be seen in Ireland and revealed that there were 503 cases reported last year.

Due to Covid restrictions and courses that take place mostly online, the numbers have plummeted, but scammers are eager to go with the return of students to campuses in September.

The demand for housing will skyrocket this year, so it is all the more important to be vigilant in choosing your rental agencies.

Between 2019 and 2021, € 900,000 were stolen as part of rental scams, and 42% of those affected were under 25.

So, as the new academic year approaches, Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Gardaí National Bureau of Economic Crime has warned of some things to watch out for:

  • Websites can be cloned, so always check the URL to make sure it is the real website – only use rental companies that you recognize and make sure they are in good faith and trust
  • Beware of people who will only tell you about hosting through Messenger or WhatsApp – and if they are acting vaguely, immediately opt out.
  • Beware of “unique” offers advertised by people based in other jurisdictions
  • If you decide to go ahead with an online offer, only use a trusted money transfer system and use a credit card – don’t transfer money directly to an account, don’t pay in cash and never pay into cryptocurrency wallets.
  • Beware of people asking you to pay to PayPal addresses, Western Union accounts, or an iTunes gift card (it does happen) – most of the time these methods are chosen because you can’t reverse the payment.

About John McTaggart

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