In part one of this series, we explored the "wash-wash trick" and "romance scamming." Part two focused on shared inheritance scams and cheque fraud. Part three now brings us to rental scams and fake job offers.
All of these scams fall under the umbrella term of "Nigeria Connection," a term coined by German police. The various frauds usually share one common denominator: scammers use a veritable arsenal of devious techniques to trick unsuspecting victims into transferring money.
Steve Goedert works for the police's prevention service in Luxembourg City and knows the modus operandi of the culprits like the back of his hand.
A popular scam: fake rentals and inexistent vacation homes. Senior citizens planning to spend their retirement years in a sunny spot abroad should be particularly vigilant. The same applies to individuals wanting to buy or rent a vacation home abroad. It is always better to use a trustworthy agency with an office, Goedert recommends. Your inner alarm bells should go off when self-proclaimed rental agents try to make you rent properties that have not been built yet. For this reason: always visit the property first and make sure it exists! Such scams take advantage of people in particularly vulnerable situations, such as the elderly, people who have just moved to a new city or town, and students on a semester abroad.
And even if you have visited a property, do not agree to have the keys sent by post. Goedert warns never to send a deposit in advance. Otherwise, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when you arrive at the property of your dreams and the real owners tell you that they never even contemplated selling or renting out their home.
To avoid similar scenarios, always get in contact with serious rental agencies.
Different scam, similar story: fraudulent job offers are a plague that can be avoided. In this context, Goedert recalls the example of a young au-pair who was offered a job : she then decided to quit her previous job.
She later received emails prompting her to transfer money in order to finalise her short-term contract with her new employer. She was told that the money was needed to buy her work equipment (such as a laptop) and that she would later be reimbursed once she started the job. The girl eventually found out that the promised seasonal employment did not really exist.
To avoid similar scams, Goedert recommends the use of official agencies. In case you are offered a job abroad, always visit the workplace first and make sure the job really exists. Never transfer money to a prospective employer in advance.