Beware of apartment scams, say PoMo Police
Police are warning the public about an apartment rental scam that surfaced in Port Moody recently.
A PoMo woman was looking for an apartment in mid-April when she found a posting on Craigslist for a unit in the Klahanie area that appeared "too good to be true."
When she contacted the landlord she received an email stating, "Due to the high fraud and fake apartments posted I am very cautious and will not give you this information over email. The flat is full furnished, everything is new inside, so please understand me! You know that the apartment is not inhabited."
Sensing something wasn't quite right, the woman searched online for the reply and discovered several warnings that the email and its sender were involved in internet fraud and scams. Port Moody Police say she assisted in having the posting removed from Craigslist, likely preventing others from falling prey to the scam.
It's not a new scam, nor is it unique to Port Moody, according to police.
The way it works is when a person searching free classified websites, such as Craigslist, pursue an ad for a "great deal" on an apartment. Over email, the fraudster conveys a sense of urgency in renting out the apartment because of a sudden job move or emergency that has them out of the country — and unable to meet with the potential tenant.
The scammer attempts to build a sense of trust by referencing God or claiming to be a doctor or reverend, and then requests your personal information and a wired security deposit in exchange for the keys.
Once the money is wired the victim never receives the keys.
The PMPD offered the following tips to apartment hunters when searching online:
• Does the email start with Sir/Madam?
• Are there spelling and grammar mistakes?
• Is there information in the email that is irrelevant to the transaction at hand?
• Does the email reference God, the UK, doctor, Nigeria or Reverend?
• Is the email from a free provider such as Yahoo, Gmail or hotmail?
The police also suggested Googling any email addresses, phone numbers or email text to see if they are flagged as a scam or fraud.
Visit www.antifraudcentre.ca for more information.