Fraudulent applications from renters wanting to let a private home have doubled this year, according to the latest data from a tenant referencing firm.
LetRef warns landlords and letting agents that they detect an average 13 bogus applications each month – almost one every two days – and the crooked trend is increasing.
The scammers try and fool the reference process by providing fake passports, bank statements and employer references.
“Worryingly, we have seen a notable increase in the number of fake passports being used by fraudsters,” says the firm’s web site.
“In 2018, there were a total of five cases using fake passports, in the first five months of this year, there have been 11 cases. This is due to expert forgers who know the code formatting required to pass a money laundering check.
“This surge in fake applications is a very worrying statistic for a rental market that is already straining under the current requirements of a ‘Generation Rent’ and this increase demonstrates the importance of using a bona fide referencing company, where staff have been given specialist training on recognising fraudulent documents.”
LetRef reveals some of the tricks fraudsters use – including redacted copies of forged passports, references from well-known companies and statements from high street banks.
One fraudster even filed a set of false accounts with Companies House to boost his business credit rating to fool landlords into believing he was a top quality tenant.
“Preventing fraud before a tenant can rent your property requires vigilance and a good deal of experience. You could be putting yourself at risk if you are not carrying out checks and even with the best checks, it is easy to get conned, which could cost you a lot more in the long run,” said LetRef director Marc von Grundherr.
The Guild of Residential Landlords provides a basic tenancy assessment report for subscribers.