WATCH: Gardaí warn students about latest college accommodation scams

Third level students in Laois and around Ireland are being warned about accommodation fraud scams.

Gardaí are advising people to be wary of rental scams, particularly at this time of year when students are returning to college.

While accommodation frauds have declined in recent months due to Covid 19 restrictions Gardaí have highlighted that the new generation of third level students seeking accommodation could be a target for fraudsters.

Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan of the Gardaí National Economic Crime Bureau gave the following advice:

- You should only use recognised letting agencies or deal with people who are bona fide and trusted. Websites can be cloned, check the URL to ensure it’s a real website and take note of the privacy and refund policy sections.
- 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
-Watch out for unsolicited contacts or where the contact appears to be based in other jurisdictions and especially if there is a sense of urgency like "a one-time offer”.
-If you have decided to take up an offer only use trusted money transfer systems. Use a credit card. Never transfer money direct, pay cash, or pay into cryptocurrency wallets.
-Be wary if a website is asking you to send money to a random PayPal address, wire it by Western Union, pay in iTunes gift cards or only deals in cryptocurrency. The majority of the time, those methods are done to avoid scrutiny and ensure that a transaction can’t be reversed.

There were a total of 503 cases of rental scams reported to An Garda Siochána between February 1, 2019 and May 31, 2021.

These incidents have been declining in the last 18 months with Covid19 restrictions the likely cause of the decline.

Almost half of these incidents occurred in the Dublin Region.

Just over €900,000 was stolen in rental scams over this period.

42% of all injured parties were under the age of 25.

72% of all injured parties were under the age of 35.

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