Scam let in upmarket Dublin area leads to €24,000 rent fraud

Family swayed to rent house without knowledge of owner who let it on short-term basis

A family was scammed out of €24,000 when they paid six months rent upfront for a property which was rented out without its owner’s consent.

The fraud, which is being investigated by gardaí, involved a home in an upmarket part of Dublin which was being rented out for €4,000 a month.

The owners decided to let the house on a short-term basis while on holiday.

Criminals rented it for a weekend and made it into a social media post which they put out on the internet advertising the house for rent. The family, who urgently needed accommodation, paid the six months deposit upfront.


"Roll on a couple of days later, the victims turn up to move into their new let and the legitimate property owner is back . . . It was an area of Dublin where six months rent was quite substantial," said Det Insp Steven Meighan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.

Gardaí believe the accommodation crisis is leading to extensive fraud within the rental sector.

“If anybody has any concerns and believe they are victims of this crime, call to your local garda station and make a report,” said Det Insp Meighan. “People might feel they are embarrassed about this, but they will be treated with sympathy and the strictest confidence.”

He stressed there is hope for victims of rental fraud if the money is sent through the legitimate bank system. It can be recovered if banks are informed quickly enough.

The Garda estimate accommodation fraud was up 30 per cent in 2021 with 279 incidents reported over that period, leading to the theft of €516,000 in rental scams.

Rent in advance

Almost half of victims are aged under 25, reflecting the profile of renters; and 58 per cent are female.

Successful accommodation fraudsters convince their targets to pay a deposit, and sometimes even rent in advance, for accommodation that may or may not exist, but is not for rent.

Det Insp Meighan said recently arrived foreign nationals are often regarded as easy targets. They may already be paying high rates for temporary accommodation or could have arranged everything online, playing into the hands of fraudsters.

Short-term lets of the kind advertised on Airbnb and elsewhere are now becoming the subject of fraud.

“Now that society has reopened, there are many more opportunities for fraudsters,” he said.

"We would advise people to be extra vigilant to avoid becoming a target. In recent cases victims sent their money to accounts in Spain and the UK – always check the Iban of the account you have been asked to send your money to; it's usually a good indicator of fraud if the bank is in a different country.

“For longer-term rentals do a landlord check. Make sure the landlord can show you the property and that you get an appropriate tenancy agreement. Trust your instincts and, like anything in life, if the offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times