Rental fraud is on the rise, fuelled by a vibrant rental market and and lots of low cost, or free-to-list platforms for advertising property, such as classified ad sites.
Research conducted by YouGov in 2013 estimated that over 1 million people had fallen victim to rental fraud, with at least another 315,000 new victims each year.
This shows just how widespread the problem has become.
Reported incidents of rental fraud increased by 44% between 2014 to 2015, rising from 2216 reported incidents in the year ending March 2014, to 3193 in the year ending March 2015.
It is highly likely that these figures are a huge underestimate of the real scale of the problem, as the Local Government Association claims only 5% of fraud incidents are actually reported, due to embarrassment on the part of the victim.
Classified ad sites have become breeding grounds for scammers who can post fake or misleading adverts at little to no cost and with few security measures or verification checks to pass.
In fact, it is estimated that bogus landlords are making £775 million per year through rental scams, with an average cost per victim of roughly £2,400.
Property classifieds site TheHouseShop.com have now implemented a unique ownership verification process, using Land Registry databases – the first of its kind in Europe, and which sets a new standard for security for property classified advertising.