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Police investigate string of Airbnb scams allegedly defrauding Melbourne renters

Madeleine AchenzaNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: NCA NewsWire

Police are investigating after a string of Melbourne Airbnb properties were allegedly fraudulently rented out by the same man.

Detectives opened their investigation in September after a tenant reported being scammed out of a Queens Rd rental advertised on social media the month prior.

The alleged victim signed what they believed was a rental agreement, only to be informed by staff at the property that it was short-stay accommodation.

Police believe holiday homes and apartments in high-rise buildings were fraudulently rented out by the same man.

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A rental property was fraudulently advertised on social media. Picture: Google Maps
Camera IconPolice are investigating allegations that a man fraudulently rented out a string of Melbourne properties, including one on Queens Rd. Google Maps Credit: NCA NewsWire

They allege he hired out the properties and pretended be the owner in order to hold inspections.

He then allegedly compiled a faked rental agreement before asking for the payment of a bond and first month’s rent.

A Victoria Police spokesperson said tenants received a “rude shock” when they attempted to move in to the property and were greeted by the true owner or holiday-makers advising them it was not a rental.

Detectives are looking for a man they believe can help them with their investigation and encourage additional victims to come forward.

The man is described as caucasian in appearance, aged in his late 20s to early 30s, about 180cm tall, of a medium build with short dark brown hair and stubble.

He has a distinctive Liverpool accent.

Rental scammer. Picture VIC police.JPG
Camera IconPolice believe this man can help with their inquiries. Victoria Police Credit: NCA NewsWire
Rental scammer. Picture VIC police.JPG
Camera IconHe has a distinctive Liverpool accent. Victoria Police Credit: NCA NewsWire

He is believed to frequent the South Melbourne and St Kilda areas.

Port Phillip Crime Investigation Unit Detective Senior Constable Demi Pascoe described the scams as “deplorable”, particularly during a rental crisis.

“Prospective renters should only be dealing with licensed real estate agents, and if something sounds too good to be true, it generally is,” he said.

“Anyone who has fallen victim to a scam of this nature is asked to come forward and report it to police so we can investigate.

“There is no need to be embarrassed – and the information you provide may be what police need to identify the man, make an arrest and lay charges.”

An Airbnb Australia and New Zealand spokesperson said they are assisting Victoria Police in their investigation and have suspended the guests account.

“We enforce strict policies and community standards and those who violate them can face action including removal from our platform,” they said.

Anyone who recognises the man – or believes they may have encountered him – is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.

Originally published as Police investigate string of Airbnb scams allegedly defrauding Melbourne renters

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