Squatters pose as fire victims
Farmers have been caught out in a scam where people pose as homeless victims of the Yarloop fires to gain access to their properties and then refuse to leave.
WA’s peak farm lobby group said about half-a-dozen farmers in the South-West had been duped while others knocked back requests for accommodation after becoming suspicious.
WAFarmers president Dale Park said farmers were being targeted by unscrupulous people pretending to have lost everything in the fires and asking if they can stay in empty farmhouses.
“These situation bring out the best in some people and unfortunately the worst in others,” he said.
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“We are looking at going to the police because the farmers are battling to get them out and we want to warn others not to get taken for a ride.”
Lawyers have advised farmers that if squatters rights come into play it may be difficult to forcibly remove the scammers.
Phil Brunner, of Bailiwick Legal, said the scammers were gaining access to farm houses through fraudulent means.
“We have been told of a handful of cases and while that doesn’t sound a lot, it has happened in a short space of time which indicates a significant problem,” he said.
Farmers have been advised to check with police if people approach them claiming to be victims of the Yarloop fires.
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