Scammers are emailing property seekers and offering to secure rental properties in return for deposits of thousands of dollars. However, people who deal with these scammers are likely to lose any money they provide.
An initial email is being sent to people who have recently applied for a rental property and includes the address of the property in the subject line. The message invites the recipient to rent the property.
If the property seeker responds to the email, the scammer invites the property seeker to pay a deposit equivalent to two months’ rent in order to secure the property. Payments are to be made through the Airbnb accommodation sharing website.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) advises people not to respond to the email or click on any links provided. The text of a typical email is provided below:
“Hi [property seeker],
A viewing is actually not possible since I'm abroad, but using Airbnb system both parties are fully protected, because they will hold the funds until you will sign the rental agreement...of course their fees will be covered by me. In order to get more info on how it works, please access the following link: [link deleted]
AirBnb requests a 2 months deposit, and everything is included in the monthly price. - Fully furnished.
If everything sounds good to you, I'll be able to publish the flat on their website so you can book it at your convenience
Thanks a lot, [name deleted]”
Never respond to requests for personal information in an unexpected email, even if it is supposedly from an organisation you know or trust. If in doubt, contact the organisation using independently verified contact details.
Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam)—delete them.
If you want to access an online account, use a bookmarked link or type the address in yourself—never follow links or open attachments in unsolicited emails as they may contain viruses or other malware.
Never give personal or financial details to anyone you do not know and trust, or enter them into a website unless you are certain it is genuine. Check the website address carefully as scammers often set up fake websites with very similar addresses.
If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.