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Gold Coast rental scam: Real estate issues warning about online scammers

House hunters have been warned about a cruel online scam which has ripped off thousands from would-be tenants.

Authorities are investigating alleged Facebook Marketplace fraudsters who took advantage of the tight rental market on the Gold Coast to fleece $30,000 from at least 10 victims, including single mums.

The scam resulted in three families and removal trucks turning up to their ‘new home’ at Pimpama last weekend, only find to discover they’d been duped.

It has prompted the horrified real estate agent leasing the $550 a week home to issue an urgent warning to prospective tenants to be cautious about online platforms they’re viewing properties on.

Gold Coast real estate agent Emma Snowdon (pictured) has warned prospective renters to be vigilant in their property search

Single mum Marie-Claire Lord is planning to make the 700km move from Newcastle NSW to the Sunshine State.

She came across the three bedroom duplex online advertised for $500 a week and handed over a $2,000 bond to the ‘landlord’.

Her worst fears were realised after she found the same property advertised on realestate.com.au for a different price and got in contact with the listed agent.

Ms Lord reported the alleged scam to Queensland Police and is now spreading the word to warn other prospective renters.

‘The worst part is I’m not the only person. We are upwards of 10 different victims and upwards of $30,000,’ she wrote online.

‘Anyone in the rental market needs to be made aware of these predators.’

She told the Gold Coast Bulletin: ‘It might not be a lot of money to lose for some but it felt to me like my dreams were crushed.’

Mum of four Patricia Pomare (pictured left outside the home she was hoping to rent) says she paid $3,000 to a 'landlord' before realising she had been scammed online

Mum of four Patricia Pomare (pictured left outside the home she was hoping to rent) says she paid $3,000 to a ‘landlord’ before realising she had been scammed online

Mother-of-four and shift worker Patricia Pomare is on the brink of homelessness having spent her entire savings in trying to find a new home.

She expressed interest in the same Pimpama duplex on Facebook Marketplace, and was told by the ‘landlord’ who went by the name of Regina Bray that she was the ‘ideal tenant’.

She paid $3,000 for the bond and another four weeks of rent before realising she too had been scammed after speaking to the real estate.

‘I found it on (Facebook) Marketplace, I just couldn’t find anything on real estate,’ Ms Pomare told Nine News. 

‘I went through all the procedures, she sent the application forms to me, I filled them out and sent it back. They did look legitimate.’

She’s now sleeping in her car.

‘I have nowhere to go,’ she added.

The saga has also cost Ms Pomare her relationship with her adult daughter as the pair had been planning to go halves in renting the property.

She wants the alleged scammer tracked down and jailed.

Three families turned up to their 'new home' (pictured) at Pimpama last weekend, only find to discover they'd been duped online

Three families turned up to their ‘new home’ (pictured) at Pimpama last weekend, only find to discover they’d been duped online

Prospective tenants looking to move into the $550 a week home (pictured) were allegedly fleeced by scammers on Facebook Marketplace

Prospective tenants looking to move into the $550 a week home (pictured) were allegedly fleeced by scammers on Facebook Marketplace

It’s understood at least two other prospective tenants were also allegedly scammed over the same property.

Wings Real Estate Helensvale senior property manager Emma Snowdon hasn’t seen a such a brazen act in her eight years in the real estate industry.

She urged prospective tenants to be vigilant about what they’re doing and the online platforms they’re viewing properties.

‘The lengths this scammer went to brazenly prey on vulnerable renters is unbelievable. It’s no different to targeting the elderly,’ she said.

‘People are desperate to rent at the moment and will often try to do whatever they can to secure a property.’

Daily Mail Australia contacted several victims and Wings Real Estate Helensvale for further comment.

Cybercrime watchdog Australian Cyber Security Centre has referred reports of the alleged scam to Queensland and NSW Police.

The state’s Residential Tenancy Authority urges tenants to treat landlords with suspicion if they refuse to meet in person and to get a bond receipt from the agency.

Prospective tenants are urged to be vigilant as online scammers try to take advantage of a tight rental market on the Gold Coast (pictured)

Prospective tenants are urged to be vigilant as online scammers try to take advantage of a tight rental market on the Gold Coast (pictured)

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