Filipinos looking for a place that the whole family can move into should take note of this.

Using fake IDs, tenancy contracts and false names to trick their victims, the fraudsters' modus operandi involves showing homes and apartments to several prospective tenants, without the knowledge of the property owners, obtaining rent and commission fees from the former and then vanishing.

In September, a real estate dealer stood trial after being accused of conning three families of Dh106,000 in a rent scam. The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance heard that the Arab man took the cash for rent from the victims after showing them apartments in a villa located in the Al Shamkha area of Abu Dhabi. Apparently, the Arab was able to convince the prospective tenants that the apartments all belonged to him.

One of the victims said he saw an ad on a website about the flat being leased out, and phoned the number. After seeing the villa with his wife, they handed the "owner" Dh67,000 upon signing of a lease agreement covering a year's time. "When I gave him a ring back the following day to get the apartment keys, the man told me that he was in Al Ain city and that he would give me the keys the following Sunday."

When the victim finally realized he was deceived, he reported the matter to police. Prosecutors charged the Arab with forging official documents and fraudulently taking the tenants' money.

Top tips: To ensure you won't fall prey to any real estate scams, Hassan Elhais, a senior partner at Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants, gave some tips for property buyers and tenants. "If the person is claiming to be an estate agent, then proof to the effect that he is a registered property agent, the title deed of the property and passport copy of the owner, recent and updated Tawtheeq documents and all persons' phone numbers must be presented to you before handing out them any advance payment."

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.