One recent story that indicates the ways that fraudsters can make a lot of money in a short period of time by operating in the property market has come in the form of a law graduate who moved to England from India. The 28 year old graduate has been swindled of her life savings thanks to a scam which has targeted students who studied at one of the top universities in London. The student made her to England from India in order to finish a Masters Degree at the University College London. She was worried about finding a flat so she decided to place a deposit and a total of 3 months’ rent to a property agent that was on Facebook. The agency indicated that they could provide student accommodation and this led to the student transferring over £2,000 by a bank transfer.
Fraud can occur quickly and simply
It was only when the “lawyer” didn’t turn up to provide her with keys to her new flat that she realised that she had been conned. When you are moving to a new country and it is important to find accommodation, you can see why people will take the step of paying money up front to a professional firm that promises to take care of everything. Sadly, this provides an opportunity for fraudsters to act in an underhand manner.
Action Fraud is a Fraud and Cyber Crime Agency operating across the UK and they have issued a warning about the volume of scams that are taking place with respect to the rising level of demand for student accommodation. With more and more students coming to the UK to study, there will be a rising level of demand and more and more people who are looking to secure a place to stay that is ready for them when they land in the country. It is important for students to be aware that they shouldn’t pay for any accommodation until they have viewed the flat and feel confident about the property that they are paying for.
Huge sums of money are involved with this style of crime every year
It is believed that over 300,000 people every single year fall victim to rental fraud, which relates to a sum of £775m. This is a huge sum of money, indicative of the rental market in the United Kingdom, but it is a worrying sum of money with respect to the potential to make money. You can see fraudsters looking at these sums of money and then deciding that they want to get involved with this market. When there is a great level of reward on offer and perhaps a smaller or relatively acceptable level of risk, you will find that a number of people will be more than willing to commit this crime.
With the advance and emergence of social media, it becomes very easy to develop a brand that people know and trust. This can often be the essential factor in convincing someone from another country to shell out for money upfront. It can be all too easy for people to say that victims of this style of crime should be alert to the possibility of fraud but when you are desperately searching for a property to live in, you may find that you are not fully focused on the potential for fraud.
With the rental market and the student market likely to be big markets for many years to come, this could be an area where defence and fraud specialist solicitors will have to develop their skills and experience in. There is no getting away from the fact the right sort of defence solicitor can have a big impact on the overall conclusion of a case, and these professionals will have a role to play in the years to come.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.