Agents have been receiving fake leads from Rightmove this week – with the firm confirming a scam but denying that it has been hacked.
Rightmove sent out an alert to agents late on Monday about the scam, which apparently originates from Afghanistan.
It is designed to trick agents into dialling premium rate numbers where they would be kept talking to ‘prospective’ buyers or tenants for as long as possible. Call charges are typically £1.50 a minute.
Rightmove’s warning came too late for at least some agents who called the number, while other agents said they did not see the email immediately because it fell into their spam folder.
The warning from Rightmove said: “The reason for this email is that our systems show that you have received one or more of these emails over the last few days.”
The fake lead emails look exactly like the normal alerts Rightmove sends out when someone has expressed an interest in a property.
The only clue is that the telephone number given is an 076 one with a message in red that this “may incur high call charges”.
As well as a phone number, an email address is given.
In one example seen by Eye, the “prospective purchaser” was interested in a three-bed semi, had no property of their own to sell or let, and wanted to view the property.
The location from which the email was sent was “UK Afghanistan”. The agent received nine of the scam emails on Monday and Tuesday.
One agent we spoke to claimed they were told by their account handler that Rightmove had been hacked and that thousands of emails had been sent out.
However, yesterday afternoon a Rightmove spokesperson said: “Over the last few days, some Rightmove member agents have received a Rightmove email enquiry asking them to contact a premium rate phone number.
“These enquiries are sent to agents manually using one of Rightmove’s email enquiry forms that are available on our website. It is important to stress that this is not as a result of a hack or because our security has been breached or compromised.
“To safeguard our members, when a Rightmove enquiry contains a premium rate phone number such as those starting 076 or 070, a clear red warning is displayed on the email enquiry alerting agents to be careful, and we also include advice on how to avoid common scams.
“Historically, we did not block these numbers as there are some instances in which these numbers are used for legitimate purposes.
“Having reviewed the recent enquiries containing premium rate numbers, we have decided to implement further safeguards.
“We have also been in touch with all customers who have been affected by this, and we have reiterated the usual advice on our website about avoiding fraud and remaining vigilant online.”
076 numbers are a premium call rate scam, often used as apparently “missed calls”, inviting people to call the number back. A call to an 076 number typically costs £1.50 per minute. Rightmove has also warned agents to beware of 070 numbers.
* Rightmove shares fell yesterday on concerns about pressure to control overheating in the housing market: they lost 81p (3.5%) to close at £22.10p.