Page last updated at 19:38 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 20:38 UK

Nottingham investigator warns of online property scam

A Nottingham-based investigator has warned house-hunters about an internet scam thought to be conning people out of thousands of pounds.

Michael Banks, who works for Scamwarners.com, claims the scale of "advance fee fraud" is not known because many cases go unreported.

In the scam a property is advertised for rent on reputable websites.

The house-hunter is asked to wire money to a relative to prove they can pay the rent, but the money is intercepted.

Mr Banks, of Wilford, says people have been asked to wire up to £1,000 to a friend or relative and send the scammer the receipt to prove they have funds.

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He added: "You think it's secure, you're making that payment to your relative, then you send him the details of it so he can check you're of financial standing.

"Unfortunately you don't see your money again, it's been collected and it's not your brother that's collected it."

False property details have been posted on websites such as Gumtree, which has put up advisory notices warning people against money transfers.

The website also says it takes action against offenders and is urging victims to step forward.

Michael Jelbart, from London, lost £1,000 in an online scam when he was looking for a place to live.

He said: "It's devastating because when you find out you've spent all that time saving up for it to be given to someone else and there's nothing you can do about it, it's horrendous."

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