Gardaí issue warning to students over increase in accommodation fraud

Students have been advised to seek accommodation from “bona fide and trusted” sources amidst a 30% increase in cases of rental fraud since 2019

Gardaí have issued a fresh appeal to students to be wary of rental scams as students across the country continue to search  for college accommodation ahead of the new academic year.

The warning comes against the backdrop of a reported 30% increase in accommodation fraud between February and July of this year when compared with the same period three years ago, with a 50% increase in victims under the age of 25.

Approximately half of all incidents occurred in the Dublin area, highlighting the concern with regards to Trinity students in particular.

In a press release, Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Gardaí National Economic Crime Bureau advised students to seek accommodation from those who are “bona fide and trusted”, and to be especially vigilant of advertisements on social media.

“Be very wary of social media advertisements or where a person letting the location will only communicate via messenger or WhatsApp. You should push for direct answers and if responses are vague, disengage immediately.”

Detective Superintendent Cryan continued by telling students to be watchful of “unsolicited contacts”, as well as offers from individuals who appear to be located outside of Ireland. Purported “one-time offers” should also be avoided.

When paying for accommodation, Cryan said to be wary of websites requiring payment through PayPal links, using cryptocurrency or through iTunes gift cards, affirming that these methods are used by scammers to “avoid scrutiny and ensure that a transaction can not be reversed”.

“If you have decided to take up the offer only use trusted money transfer systems, An Garda Síochána would recommend using a credit card. Never transfer money direct, pay cash, pay into cryptocurrency wallets.”

Other “red flags” students are being urged to remember include situations where the landlord cannot show you the property in person; where contact with the advertiser is conducted solely through text message or social media networks; and when payment is demanded immediately before signing over the lease.

Evan Skidmore O’Reilly

Evan Skidmore O’Reilly is News Co-Editor for the 70th volume of Trinity News. He is a former Deputy News Editor, and is a current final year Business and Politics student.