Mastering Due Diligence Pt 1: Beware of Property Fraudsters

Posted by Admin on Monday, July 17, 2023 Under: Property Purchase

The rising cost of living and high unemployment rate have made scamming a widespread issue. People looking to purchase or rent a home should be knowledgeable of the variety of techniques used by fraudsters to avoid becoming a victim. Below are some of the scams that have been reported recently:

Rental Scams. People pretending to be landlords or agents may put up posts about properties that are either non-existent or not under their management. These postings can be found on legitimate websites, Facebook property groups, and other online services, like Gumtree. The ads usually have attractive images, which they sometimes take from legitimate real estate agents, and they can demand payment or deposits before giving access to the property, but then never follow through.

There are also reports of situations where a renter occupies a rental dwelling for a few months, then informs the landlord they will be away and a family member or acquaintance will look after the place. In reality, the tenant has unlawfully sublet it to this person, without paying the landlord further and disappearing. The person who is now living there is usually also a dupe of the fraud.

Forging or deceitfully transferring ownership documents to sell properties that aren't rightfully theirs is known as title deed fraud. The perpetrators of this type of property fraud tend to target vacant dwellings or those owned by people who are not in the vicinity, making use of counterfeit identification and paperwork.

Duplicating sales. Less-than-trustworthy real estate agents, sometimes alongside other dubious "professionals" in the conveyance process, can sell a home to various customers without them being aware. These swindlers may use counterfeit title deeds or fraudulent documentation to fool gullible purchasers. This can bring about legal issues and substantial fiscal losses, particularly if down payments have been made.

Phishing scams are conducted through online sources and advertisements. Crooks post properties at great prices to entice customers, but their goal is to obtain personal data such as names, addresses, and ID numbers. This info can be used to set up bank accounts, take out loans, or even steal someone's identity. It is imperative to be watchful when sharing personal details online and to use secure sites for transactions. Be wary of emails or texts that appear to be from legitimate sources, but link to fake websites meant to obtain personal data.

Paul Stevens, CEO of Just Property, provides some advice to safeguard against property scams in South Africa:

If you are looking for a reputable estate agent, use the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority website to verify their registration. Do background research to confirm the property and the seller. Check if the house is on Google Maps and if the seller is willing to provide identification. You should always meet the agent in their office or the landlord in person before setting up a viewing. Beware of providing personal or financial information online and be aware of deals that appear too good to be true. A legitimate estate agent will not demand an upfront payment for anything other than drawing up a lease and credit checks. It's best to consult legal professionals and property experts to make sure all documents are valid. Follow your instincts and leave if something seems off.


Stevens suggests that buyers should take the necessary steps to make sure that their agent is credible. They should ask the agent for their Fidelity Fund Certificate number and then verify this with the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority. It is also a good idea to contact the Head Office of the property company the agent works for to make sure the agent and their branch is registered. Furthermore, it is best to complete all paperwork in person at the office and double-check with the relevant bank to make sure the deposit is being paid into a trust account.

He goes on to express how both landlords and tenants should take their responsibilities just as seriously. Agencies like Just Property provide additional security for renters by setting up trust accounts and teaming up with regulated providers such as PayProp. "We make use of advanced authentication techniques to authenticate both tenants and landlords, affording an extra measure of security."

Paddington Station PR. (3 July 2023). "Beware the Property Scammers" (Press Release)


In : Property Purchase 

Tags: "buying a house" "property" 
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