Tenants who have been contacted by scam artists using fake profiles on Daft.ie are urging the rental website to crack down on bogus adverts.
Following the Workplace Relations Commission ordering the rental website to block discriminatory advertising using terms such as “professionals only”, renters are calling on Daft to take more responsibility for ads that appear on its site.
When student Aoife O’Carroll recently enquired about a property in Co Cork, she became suspicious the house didn’t exist after the advertiser said over WhatsApp that a viewing would be “a waste of time” and asked for the rent to be transferred up front.
Ms O’Carroll (28) responded by saying she would report the matter to Daft and the fake landlord replied: “Your dog will die.”
From Co Limerick, she is moving to Cork to study and has been searching for somewhere to live for the past month. She described the hunt for a property as “very difficult” with Ireland’s current housing crisis.
Daft removed the advert after she reported it but she fears other prospective tenants may fall victim to the scam unless there is stricter filtering of adverts.
“I was immediately wary when I was given a foreign number,” Ms O’Carroll said.
“Daft advised me never to send money to anyone without first viewing an apartment and that they don’t offer a service for the transfer of money or keys.
“I got a sense that the response may have been automated but can’t be sure.”
While some tenants have been savvy to the tactics used by con artists, others haven’t been so lucky.
Anu Mathew and her husband were scammed out of nearly €3,000 after contacting a man advertising a property in Tallaght, west Dublin, on Daft.
She said the fraudster sent her a fake passport copy, a video walk through of the “apartment” and spoke to her over the phone on a number of occasions.
Ms Mathew, who lives in Dublin with her husband and young son, says they were desperate to move out of their house at the time due to having trouble with neighbours.
She was told the agreement would be carried out via an Airbnb “agent” and they would be required to transfer a deposit and a month’s rent to seal the deal.
While she was suspicious about transferring money before a viewing, she thought it was legitimate because Airbnb customers usually pay in advance.
“I know we should have thought better before transferring but I was desperate to move out and it seemed legitimate to me,” Ms Mathew said.
When asked whether Daft is working to crack down on fake adverts, a spokesperson said the site “takes security very seriously”.
“Any insincere ads are immediately taken down from the site once customer service are aware of them, who then send out a scam alert email to all users that had interacted with it,” they told the Irish Independent.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to provide complete protection against phishing risks and fraudsters so, as always, we ask our users to be vigilant, look at our blog for tips, listen to their instincts if something appears too good to be true and report any suspicious ads.”
In relation to the WRC ruling, the spokesperson said Daft would not comment as it was seeking legal advice on how to proceed.