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Don’t be taken for a ride with new scam

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25 Aug 2010

The inventiveness of the crooks in the property sector is a subject on which developers and estate agents can talk at length.

“No sooner has one loophole been eliminated than another will be found,” says Paul Henry, MD of Rawson Developers.

The latest scam to come to his attention concerns the renting of attractive coastal homes over the summer holiday season.

“Typically, an advertisement will appear on an Internet site offering a home at a rate that is well below the norm – for example, R650 per day for a home at Stilbaai with beds for ten people. This will be accompanied by pictures of a home, which almost certainly does not belong to the advertiser.

“The enquirer will then be told that the property can be his for the period he had requested. But to confirm the booking he must deposit R1k in a certain bank account.

“Needless to day, once this is done no more is heard from the advertiser who disappears off the scene and is probably not traceable because he has operated under a false name and his bank account is in the name of a non-existent property.”

“As these scamsters have dozens of properties on offer, it looks as if they are getting away with thousands of rands.”

One of the things to watch out for when making the initial enquiries, he warns, is the question: “Which property are you phoning about?”

“If you are asked this, you should immediately be suspicious because most owners have only one holiday home and their agents, if they have one, will probably be handling only two or three.”

For more information contact Paul Henry on 021 658 7100 or send an email.

Readers' Comments Have a comment about this article? Email us now.

This scam has been going on on the Gumtree site for months…. I happened to stumble across this when I enquired about a property in Langebaan...

As I happen to know Langebaan (albeit not very well), I enquired about the positioning of this house and when the guy responded (via email) it didn’t make sense… I then went back and took another look at the photos of the place to see if I could see the beach and work out where it was. To my surprise, whilst looking at them for a second time, I noticed the picture of the lounge from one angle (looking into the house) was in fact not the same place with the picture supposedly taken looking out of the lounge!

I just got a feeling that something wasn’t right and responded to his email asking for more information… his response was such that I just knew he was a scammer and replied implying that I had a strong suspicion that he was up to no good! Well he responded in such a way that he clearly was not flawed by the fact that he had been caught out.. and it became very apparent that he neither cared nor was concerned… as if he just knew he couldn’t be traced!

I then placed an ad on the site warning others of this and on further investigation notices quite a few ad’s that I realised was him (same sort of wording, places all sounded too good for the price etc!). There is a option on Gumtree to report a scam, so I proceeded to go through all the ads and the ones I was sure of (about 4) I sent notification to Gumtree and noticed that they had been removed. However, no sooner were they removed then he had them back on again…

After I had placed the warning ad – a number of people responded telling me that they too had encountered this guy… sadly some had already paid a deposit!

I am not sure what can be done about this… but I hope that at least people could be made more aware of this through the media… some poor , unsuspecting folk, who can ill afford a holiday, may lose out on the opportunity to have one due to this disgusting character…

Here’s hoping you are able to “expose” this behaviour more frequently! – Fiona

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