College students are being warned of a 30% rise in rental scams in the past three years.
Gardai say over €290,000 was taken during February to July this year, an increase on the €250,000 euro stolen during the same time in 2019.
They say around half of the incidents relate to Dublin, with €13,000 euro the median amount stolen.
Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan, of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, says people should be "very wary of social media advertisements or where a person letting the location will only communicate via messenger or WhatsApp."
Officers have issued warnings that websites can be cloned and are urging people to check the URL to ensure it’s a real website and take note of the privacy and refund policy sections.
Prospective renters are also warned to watch out for unsolicited contacts or where the contact appears to be based in other jurisdictions and especially if there is a sense of urgency like "a one-time offer”.
People should only use trusted money transfer systems, An Garda Síochána would recommend using a credit card. Never transfer money direct, pay cash, pay into cryptocurrency wallets.
Gardaí have put together a list of red flags people should watch out for:
- When the landlord is unable to meet up to show you the property in person.
- When communication is only through Text / WhatsApp or other social media platform.
- When the property is offered with no questions asked and payment demanded immediately before signing the lease.
- When you are asked to pay cash, cryptocurrency or money via a non-bank transfer, such as wire transfer.