REIV website – Hot off the Press 176

Monday, 16 April 2012

Rent scammer still active? Intelligence crossing HOTP’s desk after the Easter hols indicates the rent scammer featured in our 27 February edition may still be out and about in our town, plying his trade in leafy bayside or near bayside locales. If one thing is clear to HOTP it is that the gentleman in question – who allegedly uses the aliases Peter Joshua McIntosh, Peter Mills, Michael Playford and Peter Bradley amongst others – is very good at his chosen profession, having well and truly sucked in some experienced property managers and at least one landlord along the way. His alleged modus operandi to obtain possession of up-market apartments or homes without paying rent up-front is a lesson in creativity and the manipulation of electronic payments – like Bpay, for example. According to intelligence passed to HOTP, our scammer allegedly arranges to pay the first rent instalment direct into the unsuspecting agent’s trust account using Bpay or other convenient electronic payment, such as a credit card. Having made the ‘payment’, our scammer obtains an official transaction number. He then calls theproperty manager and advises the number to indicate all’s well. Naturally, when the property manager calls the bank or financial institution to confirm the ‘payment’ quoting the transaction number, he or she is told it’s okay. But, dear-oh-dear, when the agency receives its bank statement the next day, lo and behold there is no payment – or maybe a dishonoured one. What’s happened? Simple: the scammer has stopped the ‘payment’. In the meantime, however, he’s collected the keys and taken possession. It’s all downhill from there. No rent is ever forthcoming and our unfortunate property manager is left to obtain possession through the good offices of VCAT whilst our scammer lives the life of Riley. What’s the take-away from all this? Quite straightforward really: never hand over the keys to a tenancy for any purpose whatsoever until you actually know the first instalment of rent you’ve received has been cleared and never rely on an official transaction number as a substitute for the clearance of an electronic payment into your agency’s trust account.

 

Kabaker Property Group