POLICE in the Scottish Borders are warning the public to beware of rental fraud which happens when would-be tenants are tricked into paying an upfront fee to rent a property.

In reality, the property does not exist, has already been rented out, or has been rented to multiple victims at the same time.

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The victim loses the upfront fee they have paid and is not able to rent the property they thought they had secured with the payment. Rental fraudsters often target students looking for university accommodation.Rental fraud is a type of advance fee fraud.

Police Scotland has issued the following advice:

Protect yourself from rental fraud:

Do not send money to anyone advertising rental properties online until you are certain the advertiser is genuine.

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If you need to secure accommodation in the UK from overseas, seek the help of the employer or university you are coming to, or get a friend, contact or relative to check the property exists and is available.

 Do not pay any money until you or a reliable contact has visited the property with an agent or the landlord.

Ask for copies of tenancy agreements and any safety certificates such as Gas Electricity or HMO Licence.

Do not be pressurised into transferring large sums of money. Transfer funds to a bank account having obtained the details by contacting the landlord or agent directly after the above steps have been followed.

Be sceptical if you’re asked to transfer any money via a money transfer service like Western Union.

If you've been a victim of fraud, contact police.