Rental scammers target would-be tenants with legit-looking online ads

Rental agent Anke Stoman chats to CapeTalk's John Maytham about what she claims is a scam in the Cape's Northern Suburbs.

Scamsters are literally going on line and they are stealing - copying - our ads off our advertisements we have placed, plus our description. And then they advertise the property themselves.

Anke Stoman, rental agent

They, of course, have no right to do it and have no access to the owner of the property or the property itself, she says.

She says her tenants move in and are then harassed by people who believe they have signed a lease and paid for this property.

She says she has contacted agents in her surrounding areas and they are experiencing the same problem.

These scammers always make excuses as to why potential tenants cannot see the house first.

She says high demand for rentals in the area means people end up paying deposits for properties sight unseen.

People then pay deposits to these people believing they will be able to rent the property, and then arriving at the property on the first of the month and not having anywhere to go because they spent all their money on a deposit.

Anke Stoman, rental agent

She says this has been going on for about four years and the police won't allow her to lay a charge as she has not personally lost money.

The online nature of the scam makes legal jurisdiction complicated, she says.

She says they are also using the scammed would-be tenants ID and personal details received in further scams.

And it is not small change.

She says they then advertise the property for a lower pirce, usually on OLX or JunkMail.

If I advertise a rental for R15 000 a month, they will advertise it for R11 000. They are asking one month's rent plus two month's deposit. That's R33 000.

Anke Stoman, rental agent

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