Scammers have been using the Rightmove brand to dupe tenants out of rental deposits.
Property listing website The House Shop says it has seen ‘multiple’ incidents in recent months of fake landlords advertising cheap rents and then sending potential tenants an email from “Rightmove Tenant Verification”.
The email contains a link that looks like a Rightmove web page using the portal’s branding but applicants are invited to pay a deposit that gets sent to the scammer’s bank account held in the name of “Rightmove Plc”.
The email claims that Rightmove Plc would hold the funds and that once contracts had been signed the money would be released to the landlord.
Ironically the reasoning given for the transfer system was that this would prevent the landlord running off with your money.
The House Shop says the bank account details provided in the email were actually for an Italian bank account.
Once the user has made the transfer of one month’s rent plus holding deposit, the landlord would disappear, deactivate the email address and accounts they were using, and the tenant would be left with a substantial financial loss and no way to try and recover the money.
The House Shop, which accepts both private and agents’ listings on its site, has set up a landlord verification process to help tenants.
A spokesperson said: “From what we understand there have been multiple incidents involving this specific scam over the past couple of months, so tenants should make sure that they have their wits about them – and remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Rightmove hasn’t put much out publicly on this but it has a page on its website dedicated to scams and mentions this one.
A spokesman said yesterday: “This type of scam is something we were alerted to a few years ago from a few home-hunters looking for property in other ways on the internet. We still hear about it very occasionally so have kept this guidance on our site.
“We have a team that helps any home-hunters with queries of this nature and always advise people to use estate and letting agents.”