Students warned to be wary of rent scams

Chief Supt Gerard Dillane

Senior gardaí have warned students against scam artists operating in Cork City and its suburbs ahead of the new college year and have also told farmers about a craze in quad bike thefts.

The warnings were issued at a meeting of the Cork City and County joint policing committee (JPC).

A number of students, both Irish and from abroad, were duped into paying sizeable deposits to people who did not own properties they were intending to rent.

Chief Supt Gerard Dillane said he wanted to advise students and their parents to be vigilant of the scam as they start looking for rental properties in the city ahead of the new college year at CIT and UCC.

“This happened last year and we want to warn people that these con artists could do it again,” said the senior officer.

Bogus owners were advertising much sought-after accommodation near the third-level colleges on Facebook, DoneDeal, Gumtree and via classified adverts in some newspapers.

Some of the ads even included pictures of the properties.

Gardaí have advised students not to hand over any money until they have seen the interior of the property and if possible talked to other tenants to ensure the person saying they are the owner actually is.

In certain cases last year, students were actually shown the inside of properties by the con artists and that’s why gardaí say it is important to try and talk to other residents to establish the true identity of the owner.

They have warned people never to send a cash transfer via Western Union or wire transfers because it will be virtually impossible to trace the recipient.

Instead, they say money should be sent only to a bank account, which would provide some traceability.

Chief Supt Dillane also warned farmers in particular about a wave of thefts of farm machinery and “a craze” for stealing quad bikes from outside farms.

He said thieves were targeting garden sheds as well, especially in rural areas, taking strimmers and lawnmowers which they would then sell on.

The senior officer added that farmers needed to do more to secure their property and should not leave valuable equipment stored in unsecured locations away from the inhabited area of the property.

While property theft is not a high as it was two years ago, it is beginning to climb again, which a number of councillors on the JPC described as disappointing.

Overall reported thefts of property from April to June this year stood at 1,519, up from 1,343 during the same period in 2016.

In addition, there has also been an increase in the unauthorised taking of vehicles and thefts of property from them.

From April to June this year there were 191 reported thefts in the city and county of property from vehicles.

This was up from 129 in the comparable period last year.

Reports of stolen cars also rose from 69 to 95.

Bicycle owners were also hit as thefts of bicycles increased from 52 to 71. The majority of thefts occurred in the city centre.

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