The Local Government Association, representing 370 councils across England and Wales, is calling on the public to speak out against rogue letting agents.
The LGA likens rogue agents’ activities to the fraudulent practices of cowboy roofers and bogus faith healers.
In a statement to mark ‘National Scam Awareness Month’ the LGA cites a letting agent who scammed more than 60 tenants and landlords out of more than £220,000 of rent and deposits, who was then jailed for four-and-a-half years following an investigation by Barnet council.
The scam left some victims tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket, some without a home and others unable to care for ill relatives.
The association says local authorities can help victims of scams get their money back from fraudsters through Proceeds of Crime hearings.
"Scammers often target the vulnerable but anyone can be fooled by a bogus businessman or scheme, as fraudsters are always devising new ways to trick people out of their savings. Trading Standards teams see at first-hand the devastation but victims shouldn't suffer in silence or feel embarrassed. By reporting a scam, people can help someone else avoid being a victim” says a spokesman.