Sefton Council is warning tenants in the borough to be vigilant after a renting scam was uncovered in Southport.
The local authority’s Trading Standard’s team are investigating after a rental property in the town was advertised on a popular classified advert website, in a bid to lure potential tenants into paying deposits overseas.
While the property was legitimately on the market via a local letting agent, it was also fraudulently placed online at a significantly reduced rental.
When a prospective renter made an enquiry to the online advert, they were told ‘the owner’ had emigrated overseas and they would be required to pay a large deposit before they could access the property.
It was then that the alarm was raised and Trading Standards began their investigations.
Cllr Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulation and Compliance, said: “As soon as we were made aware of this scam we have requested that the fraudulent listing be taken down and we are investigating the matter further.
“In this instance the person who was being scammed raised the alarm in plenty of time and thankfully did not part with any cash, but others may not be so lucky.
“If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is and we would encourage everyone to be vigilant.
“Trading Standards regularly receive complaints about scams across the borough, ranging from rogue traders and doorstep salesmen to phone calls and letters designed to trick people into providing bank details.
“If you suspect any kind of fraudulent activity please report it on the Action Fraud hotline via 0300 123 2040 or by calling the Citizens Advice Bureau on 03454 04 05 06.
For more information on tackling fraud and spotting the signs, visit www.sefton.gov.uk/fraud.