One student who fell victim to a complex scam has thanked those who helped him when he needed it.
Levi Amarilo moved here last March from Brazil to study, with just 14 days of accommodation sorted through Airbnb when he arrived.
He told Lunchtime Live he spotted an advert on Facebook for a studio flat in Rathmines in south Dublin, which was posted by a fellow Brazilian.
Levi moved into it with his partner and became friendly with the man he had paid €2,400 for a deposit and one months’ rent to.
"We moved to this place, but we stayed there for three months," he said.
"This guy never gave us the chance to go to the agency to get the contract in our own names".
'This guy became our friend'
Levi's brother then decided to join him here from Brazil to study and work, and the 'landlord' offered to help.
"This guy became our friend, he was inviting us to go to pubs to see the city - just to try to put us in another place," he said.
The man then suggested Levi move to a larger property on the River Liffey for €3,000 a month.
"It was a very, very nice place in the city centre," he said.
Levi viewed the other property and decided to move there.
'Shocked and surprised'
Levi and his partner spent all of their money on the €6,000 required for the deposit and rent.
"After three days, when I was trying to organise all of this stuff, someone knocked at the door," he said.
"They woke me up and said, 'Who are you?' - and then I said, 'Who are you? I rented this place'.
"I was shocked and surprised, because a person I didn't know was knocking on the door.
"She was trying to understand as well, because she was another victim of this scam."
Levi said there were ultimately 12 people in the front room, as the 'landlord' had given them all keys to move in on the same day.
The other people were from countries including Chile, Mexico, Spain and Brazil.
"I noticed that he always scammed people who couldn't speak English properly," he said.
"There were mabe 10 or 12 people who were arriving, and everybody was just realising the place was a fake."
The property was only vacant temporarily.
'I didn't get the money'
Levi said despite Gardaí involvement, he never got his money back.
"We went to the Gardaí to report and do all of this stuff," he said.
"We tried with the bank as well... but [we] never sorted the problem.
"I didn't get the money back," he added.
Only through the help of his Irish employer - who provided him with a short-term hotel room to stay in and a loan which he repaid - he and his partner managed to rent another studio.
The 'landlord' involved in the scam subsequently fled to São Paulo.
Levi said he holds no ill will towards Ireland or the Irish people.
"At the time I had a job, that helped me to get through this," he said
"It was another Brazilian guy that did this to me - so I wasn't sad about Ireland, I wasn't sad about Irish people.
"Ireland didn't do this to me," he added.
Several bodies have come together to raise awareness of rental scams ahead of the new academic year.
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