Never transfer money without seeing a contract first or without verifying that you are dealing with the owner or the owner’s representative. Do not pay a deposit without solid confirmation that the organisation is following legal procedures. Easier said than done if you are desperate to secure the apartment.
This seems to work so well it has been gaining popularity! Individuals pretend to be estate agents and target unsuspecting potential renters. They post details of rental properties online and then ask interested parties to secure the flat by paying a deposit, either in cash or via electronic funds transfer.
A Sea Point man was arrested in August on fraud charges after allegedly conning nine people after an advert on Gumtree.
The suspect reportedly advertised a flat for rent and then asked interested parties to secure the flat by paying a deposit and the first months rent, which in itself is normal terms and conditions. However, when it came time to move in, victims find the flat is occupied and the suspect has made off with the deposit.
These bogus agents inform potential renters that a number of people are interested in the property and are urged to view and pay the deposit and / or first months rent and they would get the property. With a tremendous scarcity it seems there are plenty of desperate tenants who fall for this.
Should tenants have an interest in a property it is recommend that you phone the local office of the estate agency to establish that the agent is a registered agent with that company. But of course it is easy to use the name of a real agent so do not just use the number you are given but look it up yourself.