In March, Burnaby RCMP issued a warning about Burnaby residents being taken for big bucks by people facing rentals not theirs.
Terry was one of those people.
Police say the fraud involves the scammer posting an ad for a rental property.
An unsuspecting tenant responds to the ad and often agrees to meet someone who identifies as the landlord. After visiting the property, the tenant meets the landlord again to hand them a sum of money to pay the rent and the initial deposit. The tenant signs a contract, receives a key to the residence and a date of occupancy. When the tenant tries to move in, they are greeted by the real owner of the property and tell them that the house is not available for rent.
Terry told the NOW that this was close to what had happened to him, although he did everything over the phone because of COVID-19 fears. He also had a lack of time as he was basically “surfing the couch” at the time and running out of options.
“I never felt comfortable with all of this, but the cases were increasing, I hadn’t been vaccinated yet because of my age and I really needed to find a place to live,” said Terry. . “The guy told me on the phone that he had four other people lined up to take the place but he had a soft spot for me so he would give me a break.” I got ripped off out of desperation. Lesson learned. “
Terry said he filed a report with the police because he thought that since it was done over the phone the phone was probably a burner that has already been ransacked.
“I have since found another place to live and I’m just moving on,” he said.
Alternatively, police say the scam has a landlord responding to the tenant’s response to the ad and telling the tenant they live overseas. The landlord often reassures the tenant by providing them with copies of their passport and / or driver’s license (which are most often considered fraudulent). After the tenant transfers money via internet wire transfer, money order / bank transfer, Bitcoin and other means, the landlord stops contact.
To better protect yourself from this type of scam:
- Use a reputable rental website or go to the property management office itself;
- Search the internet for the address, see if anything suspicious is found;
- If the rental price is too good to be true, it is probably a fraud;
- Do not deposit cash, cash is not traceable;
- Don’t wire money, wire transfers are extremely difficult to reverse and trace;
- Do not give out personal information such as your social insurance number, your bank account or your credit card;
- Be sure to speak with the landowner or property manager;
- Find out from surrounding neighbors about the owner and history of the property (neighbors should be able to tell you who lives next door and whether they own or not)