Passport scam against homeowners

In this article we advice how to set your defense against this scam.

The scam, part one

The scammer contacted an owner on our competitors website where he showed interest in renting the property. The owner and renter agreed on the terms and all was fine so far. Now the renter claimed that he was traveling for a business, so they needed proof of his expenses etc, so therefore the renter would need some kind of personal documentation from the owner. This could be a copy of their passport or NIE, which the owner forwarded.The scammer is now in possession of the bank account number and a copy of the passport or NIE. With that information he is now able to contact the owners bank, claiming he is the owner and then order a money transfer from the owners account to his account.

The scam, part two

The first scam was successful for the scammer in two ways. First because he got a nice fat transfer sent to his account. Second he is now in possession of the identity of another person because of the copy of the passport or NIE. So the path for the next scam is laid out and this time with a better and more convincing tool.

Building trust

To complete his 'trust package' he opened up a new hotmail account with the name of the scammed owner. So now he is holding the following information on the scammed owner

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Bank details
  • Passport or NIE
  • The web address for the owners holiday home
  • E-mail address with the scammed owners name

Combined with him being smart and a smooth writer his next move is obvious.He contacted 4 owners on regarding renting their property, using the scammed owners name and the newly created email address. He claimed to be an owner himself and he send the link to the scammed homeowners advertisement - all this to built up trust. When the trust is peaking, he now asks for the passport or NIE. So the conclusion is NEVER SEND YOUR PASSPORT OR NIE in an e-mail to a person you do not know. It is the same as sending them your real passport or NIE document.