Islander warns others about Facebook rental scam
AN Islander has warned others about rental scams on Facebook after a fraudster advertised his house for rent… when it was for sale with an agency.
Lawrence Slatter-Buesnel, who lives in a two-bedroom property in St Helier, had recently made an effort to sell his house with local estate agents.
However, not long after it went on the market, a neighbour knocked on his door and inquired about renting the property.
‘I assured her it was for sale, not for rent,’ Mr Slatter-Buesnel said. ‘We had five minutes of confusion with no idea what the other was talking about.
‘But when she returned with her phone and showed me the post, I realised that someone had copied and pasted our sales advert, and said that it was for rent instead of sale.’
The post had details about how to make inquiries and where to pay a one-month deposit of £1,400.
‘What they’re doing is getting the deposit and never actually renting the place. Hopefully most people realised it was too cheap,’ said Mr Slatter-Buesnel. ‘I don’t know what rents are these days, but that low price obviously drew attention to it.’
The post had been put up on two Jersey sales pages, with comments marvelling about how the deal was ‘too good to be true’.
The profile – under the name Neil Strachan – was ‘clearly fake’, Mr Slatter-Buesnel said, as it had no information or photos.
After the neighbour drew his attention to the post, he reported it to Facebook and contacted the pages’ administrators, who swiftly took them down and blocked the user.
It has recently been discovered that the scammer attempted the same method in Guernsey and Gibraltar, joining sales pages and posting rental adverts for properties on sale.
Mr Slatter-Buesnel said: ‘I had a stressful time contacting admins, and there were two things that worried me the most: that someone would get scammed out of £1,400, and that someone would show up to my house on 1 September wanting to move in.
‘I don’t think the scammer is anyone local but I want to warn others, and warn people not to use these Facebook pages for things like house sales.
‘If my neighbour hadn’t showed up on my doorstep asking to rent the house, I may never found out.
‘I’m not a member of those pages, so unless a friend had seen it and told me, I wouldn’t have known.
‘And my neighbour believed it. She wasn’t checking whether it was a scam; she was curious about renting it.’