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How to beat potential rental scammers

How to beat potential rental scammers

A common phenomenon: Airbnb landlords supposedly offering short-term vacation apartments, only to later turn out to be rental scams who don't actually own the apartments. In “Ö1-Morgenjournal” two experts talked about the first signs of rental fraud and gave tips on how to protect yourself from it.

Signs of rental fraud

Marisa Herzog Berchhold of the Austrian Tenants Association describes the typical process of rental fraud as follows: You arrange a viewing appointment with the alleged broker. Then he sends an assistant or assistant to take command in his place. If the viewing goes well, interested tenants will subsequently be sent an offer and contract, which requires a fixed deposit and down payment for the furniture.

When the keys are handed over, the rental fraud finally becomes apparent: “When you get there, there is no one there and there is no access to it. “This is a clear indication that the fraudster has falsely represented himself as the owner of the apartment,” says Herzog-Berchhold on the point In which the victims must learn about the scam at the latest. Such an incident would be fatal for the victims, as several thousand euros would be lost and the deceived would be left without a place to stay in the short term.

Sandra Hrastinj from the Federal Criminal Police Office also warned against fake rental contracts. The scammers specifically try to collect the deposit and first month's rent early. Once they don't show up when the keys are handed over and the fraud is uncovered, they immediately contact the supposed tenants and invent a reason why they can't rent the apartment after all. The subsequent promise to repay the money is usually not fulfilled. In this way, perpetrators put pressure on their victims and force them to make a quick decision.

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Prevention tips

As a tip to prevent such fraud, you should first check the homepage of the brokerage company in question. According to Herzog-Berchhold, a sign of a lack of legitimacy is, for example, if a website has only been around for a short time: “Then you have to be careful. “You should always only pay the deposit when you hand over the keys and not in advance,” she offers good advice. Intent to prevent such fraud.

Hrastinj also has tips for successfully preventing fraud: “Talking to your neighbors is a good start.” You should look closely, especially at furnished apartments. For example, if the mattress and cutlery are already there, you should be careful. In addition, the deposit should never be paid in cash, but rather by bank transfer. This gives police more opportunities to trace the money.