The National Association of Property Buyers fear criminals will aim to “cash in” on vulnerable Britons looking to save or make money over coming months.
Spokesman Jonathan Rolande said the property sector will be a prime target for crooks who were involved in record levels of fraud during Covid but that everyone is at risk.
Mr Rolande said: “We saw during the pandemic, when Brits moved their lives online, that criminals adapted and were able to pull off record levels of fraud. We should expect to see the same now with the cost of living crisis. I fully expect to see a tsunami of cases. We will see scams where people are offered rebates on utility bills, extensions on their overdrafts or interest free loans. They look great on paper but, in fact, they are designed simply to get hold of a person’s bank account and empty their funds. These ruthless criminals destroy lives and people need to be really vigilant at the moment. If it looks too good to be true it most probably is.”
Detailing the type of scams people should beware of Mr Rolande, also the co-founder of House Buy Fast, continued: “Letting scams are a big issue. People should beware of adverts on social media and selling sites such as Gumtree that offer property to let for what seems like great value. Fraudsters use professional looking images, property addresses and plausible sounding adverts to let property over and over again when in fact, they have no right to do so even once. Deposits are taken from numerous ‘tenants’ who then find the property never materialises. Fraudulent adverts have already begun to appear offering ‘all-inclusive bills’ or cheap rent, to tempt the unwary.
“Another common trick are ‘get rich quick’ scams. There are plenty of people out there who will gladly charge you hundreds or even thousands of pounds for access to cheap property which they say is ‘guaranteed’ to make a profit. Adverts will offer sky-high yields and big money when you sell for property here or abroad. But ask yourself – if it is such a sure-fire scheme, why are they having to advertise to give away shares of the profit? Beware anyone who guarantees anything – with property, very little is certain!
“Be careful about selling scams too. Do you know that the person selling the house you want is really the owner? Carers, neighbours with a key, tenants and family of the real owner have all been known to try to sell a property without permission. If you buy from somebody other than the owner, your money may well be lost. Things to look out for are requests for undue haste, aggressive negotiations after initially being very friendly and not seeming to care too much about how much is paid. Buying via an estate agent helps reduce risk from people cashing in on the rush to secure a property.
“I also expect to see a rise in mortgage scams. As people begin to fall behind with payments thanks to the cost of living crisis there will be people out there who say they can help. Some may be genuine but many are not. Beware of firms that say they can consolidate your debts and negotiate with lenders, requesting repayments to be made through them. They are very likely to be fraudsters.” Jonathan said it was likely text and phone scams will surge in numbers too.
He added: “Beware texts and calls offering you money back for tax, rent, HP, PPI or anything else – they are likely fake. Never change payment details based on these.
Don’t rely on email to obtain details of anyone you’re paying money to – always check in person. Take your time. If you feel pressure to part with money, step back, take some time to think – you can always pay tomorrow after you’ve done some checks and slept on it. Use the internet to check reviews on companies or individuals you’re dealing with. Go beyond page one of the results to dig deeper. Look on review sites such as Trustpilot and Feefo but be mindful that sites and reviews can be faked. Most importantly don’t over share your data – criminals want your name, address, birthday and some other key information.”