Signals about fraud around the rental of living spaces have recently increased again. This is particularly noticeable in various rental platforms. Due to the exceptional tightness in the rental housing market, fraudsters again seem to want to take advantage of the desperate home seeker. That is why the Fraud Helpdesk and the Public Prosecution Service are launching an online campaign, in close collaboration with various rental platforms.
The housing shortage is high in the Netherlands. The number of people looking for an affordable home is growing day by day. Fraudsters are well aware that as a result house hunters look less critically and are more likely to jump in. They are happy to respond to this with spectacular 'offers'.
'Too good to be true'
'A nice, furnished apartment in the heart of Amsterdam. Including gas, electricity, internet and water for only 800 euros per month.' Of course, that sounds too good to be true, and it is. Yet people regularly fall for these kinds of advertisements. Every year, the Fraud Helpdesk receives about 200 reports of (attempted) fraud involving living quarters. The actual numbers will be higher because especially international students, expats and holidaymakers who speak little or no Dutch probably do not know where to find the Fraud Helpdesk.
What is striking is that fraud via the well-known rental platforms hardly occurred earlier this year. The platforms had taken even more security measures, such as more intensive (both automated and manual) screening of profiles, advice to users not to use name and address details and not to click on links, setting up 2FA and tighter procedures for leaving them offline. from phishing sites. We then saw a shift towards false housing advertisements on social media.
"A roof over your head, or robbed of your money?"
Recently, however, we have seen a slight increase in fraud attempts on or via some well-known rental platforms. Due to the exceptional tightness in the rental housing market, fraudsters again see an opportunity to take advantage of desperate home seekers. In view of these signals, we want to warn against this by launching a campaign: 'A roof over your head, or robbed of your money?'
Some general advice:
- View first, then pay. Maybe an open door, but never pay in advance to a private individual. If you can't view the property without transferring money first, you can assume the offer is fake;
- If necessary, check the photos in advance with the advertisement via the internet. Photos are often copied from existing advertisements for a completely different rental or owner-occupied home (with very different prices of course);
- Also check the address immediately via the street view function of Google Maps. Place the yellow doll in front of the intended building on the map. You can then see if the property even exists. Sometimes the location in reality looks very different from what the ad promises;
- Also be extra vigilant with advertisements on social media. The origin is often difficult to trace.
For more information, go to https://www.fraudehelpdesk.nl/
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