THE cost of living crisis is likely to fuel a surge in fraud and online scams, a property group warned this morning.
The National Association of Property Buyers fear criminals will aim to “cash in” on vulnerable Britons looking to save or make money over coming months.
The property sector will be a prime target for crooks who were involved in record levels of fraud during Covid but that everyone is at risk, spokesman Jonathan Rolande shared with City A.M.
“We saw during the pandemic, when Brits moved their lives online, that criminals adapted and were able to pull off record levels of fraud. We should expect to see the same now with the cost of living crisis,” he explained.
“I fully expect to see a tsunami of cases. We will see scams where people are offered rebates on utility bills, extensions on their overdrafts or interest free loans.”Jonathan Rolande
Those rebates look great on paper but, in fact, they are designed simply to get hold of a person’s bank account and empty their funds, Rolande stressed.
“These ruthless criminals destroy lives and people need to be really vigilant at the moment. If it looks too good to be true it most probably is.”
Types of scams
Detailing the type of scams people should beware of, Rolande, who is also the co-founder of House Buy Fast, continued: “Letting scams are a big issue. People should beware of adverts on social media and selling sites such as Gumtree that offer property to let for what seems like great value.”
“Fraudsters use professional looking images, property addresses and plausible sounding adverts to let property over and over again when in fact, they have no right to do so even once.”
Moreover, “deposits are taken from numerous ‘tenants’ who then find the property never materialises. Fraudulent adverts have already begun to appear offering ‘all-inclusive bills’ or cheap rent, to tempt the unwary.”
Another common trick are ‘get rich quick’ scams.
“There are plenty of people out there who will gladly charge you hundreds or even thousands of pounds for access to cheap property which they say is ‘guaranteed’ to make a profit,” Rolande said.
Adverts will offer sky-high yields and big money when you sell for property here or abroad.
“But ask yourself – if it is such a sure-fire scheme, why are they having to advertise to give away shares of the profit? Beware anyone who guarantees anything – with property, very little is certain!” he continued.
Rolande also expects to see a rise in mortgage scams. As people begin to fall behind with payments thanks to the cost of living crisis there will be people out there who say they can help.
“Some may be genuine but many are not. Beware of firms that say they can consolidate your debts and negotiate with lenders, requesting repayments to be made through them,” he said. “They are very likely to be fraudsters.”
Jonathan said it was likely text and phone scams will surge in numbers too.