Does that rental listing you found online seem too perfect?
Is the person on the other side trying to rush you to put a deposit down so you can secure the property?
Be careful, it might be a scam.
That's the message from Coquitlam RCMP after prospective renters fell victim to a pair of online listing scams in the past two months.
Mounties explain both victims lost money after a fake ad for a rental property for rent was posted in an online marketplace and they agreed to give deposits before even looking at the alleged available suites.
"In an extremely competitive rental market, these fraudsters are taking advantage of renters who need to secure accommodation," says spokesperson Cpl. Paige Kuz.
The first reported incident saw a woman e-transfer a half-a-month's rent to the person who advertised the listing.
However, Kuz says the victim didn't view the suite before sending the money and when she arrived on the move-in date, the property wasn't for rent at all.
She then contacted police to report the scam.
In a second incident, similar to the first, an interested renter agreed to meet the suspect outside their home after communicating about an alleged suite online.
When they arrived, Kuz explains the suspect "made up an excuse" and said he couldn't show the suite at the time
Instead, he provided a "professional looking contract" to sign and the victim paid a damage deposit in cash before realizing it was a scam.
They then contacted police to report the fraudster.
So, how do I know if an online rental listing is a scam?
In a release on Tuesday (May 24), Kuz says there are some precautions for interested renters to follow in order to protect themselves from an online rental listing scam.
Before someone agrees to send a deposit to secure a potential property, RCMP ask the public to consider the following:
- Visit the rental address in-person
- Schedule a showing with the "landlord" and confirm its availability
- Request a lease/contract and review it thoroughly
- Search online marketplaces for the posted rental address to ensure there are no duplicates
- If there are, this could be a sign of a scam
- If the person selling requests payment in cryptocurrency or gift cards, this is a strong indicator of a scam
- If you feel rushed or pushed to do something, it could be a sign of a scam
- Go with your gut!
- If it seems off, it probably is
Anyone with more information about a potential scam, or if you believe you have fallen victim to fraud, you're encouraged to call Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550.
If you encounter a scam but are not victimized, Mounties advise you to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or go online to www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.