A lettings agent has told the BBC that he has spotted illegal rental scams using online platforms, but the police have chosen not to act.
The BBC investigation has found that one tenant, Mary Whitbread from Bournemouth, has lost around £3,000 after paying a deposit and a fee – only to find out the property she had been shown had in reality been squatted and was not owned by the fake agent taking her money.
Phil Skorochod from the Bournemouth branch of Martin & Co said the problem was now widespread with listings copied from legitimate agency websites and posted on Airbnb or other online platforms.
“We’ve tried desperately to get the police involved, they’ve done nothing” explains Skorochod.
“They don’t take details, they don’t come out, they don’t check the people. They refuse to get involved” he continues.
Dorset Police, in response, tells the BBC that the issue was referred to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud.
It’s a familiar enough story for many agents, but the issue at least now has a national audience and with the agent rightly shown as trying to identify the fraud at source and prevent scams taking place – if the criminals can be stopped early enough.