Police have warned tenants searching for accommodation to beware of an international property scam as more attempts to dupe renters came to light yesterday.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, Auckland City District's field crime manager, said police had received complaints and he warned people to be on the lookout, but said there was little police here could do.

"The issue is generally that this is all online and the money goes overseas. The message has to be put out there that people need to check the bona fides of anyone seeking money from them before they pay into any account and it's as simple as that. It has to be buyer beware," he said.

Mr Beard was responding to the Herald's report revealing that Nigerian-based scammers using the internet had made money offering homes for rent that were already tenanted.


Yesterday, Courtney Telfer told of receiving email responses to her inquiries about a place she saw advertised on the website Gumtree, at 22 Pakenham St East on Auckland's Viaduct Harbour, available for only $200 a week.

One message, from West Africa, told of how the owner's parents had lived there but were in "a ghastly motor accident" and how he had to relocate to run an overseas charity home.

"When believing something was too good to be true, it usually is," Ms Telfer said.

Gumtree has announced it is closing down in New Zealand and not taking any more ads.

Pip Smit of the Bay of Plenty's Beachrentals.net.nz discovered his TradeMe ad for a Pukehina Beach property had been copied.

"I have contacted police but they did not seem that interested. I just read your story 'Nigerian rental scammers rip off desperate house-hunters' and believe it may be a lot bigger than people think."

Rental checks
• Is the landlord based in New Zealand?
• If not, do they have a local agent?
• Is the account domestic or foreign?
• Have you been told you can't see inside?
• Will the keys arrive in the mail or by courier?