Would-be renters across the north-east are being urged to be vigilant after a woman lost her £500 “deposit” in a scam.
Police are investigating after the woman handed over the cash, thinking it was securing her a property in Elgin.
However, it was being advertised fraudulently and she has lost her money.
Now officers are urging people to take care and always make sure they check the landlord is legitimate before handing over a deposit.
They should also always view the property first, and not feel pressurised.
Constable Richard Russell, crime reduction officer, said: “If you are looking for a property to rent, never part with money before viewing the property and verifying the landlord’s details.”
It is possible to look up the details of most private landlords through the Landlord Registry Service so you can ensure the details they have provided are correct.
When meeting a landlord, ask to see ID to confirm their identity, as well as the relevant tenancy agreement, safety certificates and HMO license.
The force has shared key things to look out for when you are considering renting a property, including visiting properties with a reputable agent or landlord.
Rental fraudsters will often tell parties that there is a lot of interest in a property so they feel pressured to secure it as quickly as possible. The police are reminding people to never transfer money prior to visiting the house or flat.
Money should only be transferred after all cautionary steps have been completed and only to account details which have been obtained by the landlord or agent.
It is important to be aware of bank accounts which are in a different name as they are more likely to be a part of a scam.
The police advice potential renters to be cautious of adverts with no telephone numbers and to make sure numbers attached do work.
Scammers have also taken advantage of the pandemic, using it as a reason to supply photos of a property rather than arranging an in-person visit.