Victorians looking to rent new homes are being warned to be wary of an Airbnb social media scam that is convincing renters to hand over thousands of dollars in fake bonds.

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Several victims in Melbourne have lost thousands of dollars after signing fake rental agreements for already occupied homes, in the latest blow to desperate renters during the ongoing rental crisis.

Police said the scam was being run by a single man who rented out properties through short-stay accommodation providers before holding fake inspections for unsuspecting renters.

“To have someone take advantage of others, especially during a rental crisis, is deplorable,” Detective Senior Constable Demi Pascoe said.

Police launched an investigation in September after a tenant reported being scammed out of a rental property on Queens Road in August after it was advertised on social media.

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

Police said the man, described as Caucasian with dark hair, compiled fake rental agreements before obtaining a payment of bond and first month’s rent from prospective tenants.

Tenants received a rude shock when attempting to move in, with the true owner or holidaymakers within the property advising them that the property it was not a rental.

It’s believed the man has rented out several high-rise buildings and short-term rentals in South Melbourne and St Kilda.

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