An increase in rental fraud in the county has triggered a warning from Derbyshire Police.
Officers from the Fraud Investigations Team are warning people to be cautious when renting property privately.
Rental fraud happens when would-be tenants are tricked into paying an upfront fee to rent a property.
In reality, the property does not exist, has already been rented out, or has been rented to multiple victims at the same time.
The victim loses the upfront fee they have paid and is not able to rent the property they thought they had secured with the payment.
Tammy Barnes, Derbyshire Police’s Fraud Protect officer, said: “The cases we are seeing in Derbyshire involve victims who have paid a deposit to view a property, only to find that although the property exists, it is not available to rent.”
Action Fraud classifies rental fraud is a type of advance fee fraud, and their website gives the following tips to help would-be-tenants to protect themselves:
Do not send money to anyone advertising rental properties online until you are certain the advertiser is genuine.
Do not pay any money until you or a reliable contact has visited the property with an agent or the landlord.
Ask for copies of tenancy agreements and any safety certificates such as gas, electricity or HMO Licence.
Do not be pressurised into transferring large sums of money. Transfer funds to a bank account having obtained the details by contacting the landlord or agent directly after the above steps have been followed. Be sceptical if you’re asked to transfer any money via a money transfer service like Western Union.
If you have been a victim of rental fraud, report it to Action Fraud online here: www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime or by calling 0300 123 2040.