Financial cops warn public of ongoing rental ad scam

| 08/05/2018 | 12 Comments

(CNS): At least two people have already lost a significant amount of cash in a rental advertisement scam that the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit is currently investigating. Police said they have received multiple reports about the fraudulent adverts being posted on the local site One victim lost CI$2,000 and a second a similar amount. Although the ads were removed by the website administrators, the scammers have previously re-posted and police expect they could resurface in the future.

Officers explained how the scam has been working and how victims have lost their money.

The fraudulent adverts usually include photographs, details of the apartment and an email address for the listing agent. Once the initial contact is established, the criminal sends additional information with a seemingly logical explanation for the attractive rental package. This includes all utilities, cable, gas and internet connection/Wi-Fi. The victim is informed that there is no local representative and that the property is managed by Airbnb, which handles the entire rental process.

Once interest is established, the listing agent sends step-by-step procedures on how to reserve the apartment via Airbnb. Further information is provided and the victim is requested to wire transfer funds to a third party bank account outside of the jurisdiction. After the transaction goes through, the criminal typically removes the advertisement from EcayTrade, ignores all follow-up emails and the victim is never able to recoup their losses.

Police urged people looking for rental apartments to ensure they are using a reputable source by verifying the legitimacy of the listing agent and their actual possession of the property.

“When it comes to making any purchases or securing a rental property, be cautious of advertisements of rental property or items advertised well below market value. Remember, if the deal appears too good to be true, it probably is,” a spokesperson for the FCU said.

They advised people to use the internet to research the advertisement and seller’s name, email addresses and other unique identifiers and to avoid sellers or rental agents who refuse to meet, or arrange to have someone meet with you, to physically inspect or view the apartment. Pressure them to act quickly. Insist on meeting with the individual or their designate in person before conducting any transaction.

“If you are suspicious or unsure about the advertisement, immediately contact or file a complaint with the police or FCU,” the spokesperson added.

If funds are transferred to a fraudulent account, it is important to act quickly and contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering the scam, police said. Ask your bank to contact the corresponding financial institution where the transfer went and keep all original documentation, emails, faxes and logs of communications.

“Because scams and fraudulent websites can emerge and change very quickly, individuals are encouraged to report any suspicions of possible internet scams by filing a complaint with the police or FCU regardless of whether a loss is suffered,” the FCU said.

Any such reports can be made to your local police station, or directly to the FCU at 949-8797.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Still waiting for delivery of my giant dachshund puppy I paid a 10k deposit for. Clifford I think his name is, call me if you spot him anywhere.

  2. Professional scammers says:

    The other “scam” is landlords that find ways to not re-imburse tenants their deposits citing bizarre reasons for non payment. Just who do tenants get to complain to in these circumstances and be afforded some kind of protection and payout? Cayman needs a small claims court! Maybe Auntie can tell.

    CNS: Auntie already dealt with this issue as much as she could. See here.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Red flag for car ads is oak tree’s in the back-ground , or tree’s with no leaves, with snow on the ground..

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep! Or no plates on the front… Buildings in the background that you don’t recognize..

  4. Anonymous 345 says:

    Having to do an international wire transfer will always be the first red flag.

    Being overly cautious is seldom a bad thing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I responded to an add for a 3 bed, 2 bath in Tropical Gardens for $1300.00 per month. It had pics attached and the house looked decent. I queried viewing the property right away but once the beating around the bush started and talks like I’d need to pay money up front and because I was not biting, he took it a bit further by sweetening the deal. He said the $1300 included all utilities and even a pool. Right then I decided to play along with the scammer. His next email was about Airbnb managing the property etc then I told him to screw it and I was not interested. No more contact after that. I don’t know how ppl fall for these scams. Research and read between the lines ppl. The offer was way too good to be true which is a major red flag.

  6. dumb like door knob says:

    I feel bad for stupid people for maybe 3 seconds. Obviously they know how to wire funds (and have enough to wire) but aren’t smart enough to ask questions like “why would airbnb need to advertise on Ecay?” “If there is no local representative to even show me inside the place, how will I get the keys when ready to move in?”……come on people!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Are you people new to the internets?
    Even Airbnb stresses the importance of booking and paying via their secure website. This is a trusted reputable way to book and I have done it many times with not one problem.
    Airbnb does NOT work via ecay!!!

    Like taking candy from a naïve wee baby…

    • Anonymous says:

      3:49 Sadly, when things like this happen it seems to me that there are simply people out there who just shouldn’t be using the internet. It’s like all scams – if there’re not smart enough to spot it tough luck!

      Even with my spam filters maxed out I often get 7-8 phishing emails a day – you just report them, delete them and move on.

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