[SCAM WARNING] Estate agency warns against rental scam currently going around in Secunda

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The Managing Director at Seeff, Mr Billy Fick, warned the community against a rental scam currently going around in Secunda.

“The Internet has transformed the way we access information, but it also makes it easier for people to fall prey to scams of all kinds, especially rental scams,” said Mr Fick.

“Many people have either been the victim of an online scam themselves or know someone who has.

“While the Internet has certainly made our lives easier on the one hand, it has also opened up a world of opportunities for fraudsters on the other side and one has to remain vigilant at all times not to fall prey to online property scams.”

According to Mr Fick, the latest modus operandi of scamsters is to steal photos from legit property websites and to then showcase and advertise those properties at a reduced rate on different websites while they pretend to be an agent with a reputable agency.

When the client requests to view the property, the so-called agent will have many excuses why it is not possible, ranging from the keys being misplaced to the landlord being abroad.

The so-called agent will then however request that the client pay a deposit upfront without the property being viewed as to secure the property.

They would even arrange for the keys to be picked up at a certain time at the property real estate’s office and when the client pitches up to fetch the keys, the agent does not exist or the actual agent has fallen prey to identity theft.

Mr Fick said their branch was involved in such an online scam recently and more than one of their properties were advertised in such a way on OLX at a ridiculously low monthly rental fee.

“Everyone who showed interest in this property was asked to pay a deposit into a private account before they were allowed to view the property,” said Mr Fick.

“Of course when it came to viewing the property involved, the so-called agent did not show up or answered any further calls and the advertisement disappeared from OLX’s website.

“Three people were caught like this in one week.”

Mr Fick gave the following tips to avoid falling victim to similar scams:

· Be well informed about market-related prices in the area you are looking to rent. If a property is advertised way below the market-related price for that area, it should raise your concerns. Why would an agent or landlord want less for a property than what they can actually get for it?

· If you found a bargain online, you should call the property agency to find out if the deal is for real. Do not call the number at the bottom of the advertisement because this number could lead you to a fake office. Rather find the actual head office number, call there and ask the receptionist to give you the number of the specific branch you are looking for.

· Be wary of agents and landlords who seem too eager or pushy to get you to live in their property or one they are marketing. A legit agent or landlord will always conduct the necessary checks and will not be too disappointed when you do not show much interest in the property; they will not try to persuade you to live there or to let certain checks slide because they trust you.

· If the agent is constantly making up excuses as to why they are not able to meet you or show you the property, you should also be worried. The chances are good that they do not have access to the property and are stalling for time until they can think of a clever way to get you to pay the deposit.

· Always play on the safe side and call the agency you are dealing with and speak to the agent on the office phone, not on their cell phones.

· It remains best to look for a property on a legit property agency website rather than some random website and to deal with a reputable agency rather than a private owner. While many private owners are legit, the woman who advertised the fake property in Secunda was a private owner, apparently advertising her own property, using her personal banking details for the deposits.

· Never pay a deposit before you have viewed a property.

· Always ask for a contract before paying a deposit. The contract you receive should be above board. You should be very skeptical if you receive pictures of a contract as opposed to the contract itself.

Mr Fick concluded that people should accustom themselves with how the rental process works so that they will know immediately when something out of the ordinary, indicating a possible scam, is happening.

Seeff makes use of the PayProp Management system to manage rental agreements.

PayProp also offers a unique credit check functionality which is used to screen prospective tenants.

PayProp Capital offers a deposit replacement agreement, which is affordable for tenants and a reliable guarantee for landlords.

Seeff Secunda is also part of the Rental Retainer Club, which is driven by Marlon Shevelew and Assocaites, that assists with not only rental advice, but also non-payments and evictions.

Contact Seeff at 017 634 6789.

 

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  AUTHOR
Jana Oosthuizen

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