Fraudsters are placing fake rental property listings for affordable inner Sydney apartments on the site. Upon contacting the purported landlord, would-be renters are being instructed to transfer money offshore in exchange for apartment keys that will never arrive.
The 'landlord' claims to have moved to Italy, but promises to send the keys along with the lease lease when a bond is received in escrow. If the would-be renter doesn't like the apartment after using the keys to inspect it, they are assured their money will be refunded. There are, of course, no keys. Or apartment, for that matter.
"I have found a procedure that will allow us to make a fast and safe deal and through this way you will see [the apartment] and decide if you will stay in the apt or not before I receive my payment," one of the scam e-mails reads. "In this way you will receive the keys in less than two days, if you move fast as well."
The wire transfer the fraudsters instruct their marks to use, conducted through Western Union, is irreversible and final.
Risky.Biz had identified two, distinct fraudulent listings offering inner-city apartments for rent at $250 a week, with a $1,000 bond payable.
At least one victim has been confirmed. They lost $2,000; half in bond, half in advance rent.
Domain.com.au's Product and Customer Care Director Nathan Moyes told Risky.Biz the fraudulent listings were pulled as soon as the company became aware of them.
"The Domain.com.au customer care team removed the ads within 10 minutes of confirming them as suspicious listings, about 45 minutes after you reported the incident," an e-mail from Moyes via Domain's PR agency reads. "As a result of this incident, we will look to place more information on safe online security practices in a position of further prominence on our site."
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