A West Kelowna resident in need of a new home narrowly avoided an online rental scam and now the Mounties are warning the community to be careful when perusing the classifieds.
In late September, West Kelowna RCMP received a report of the discovery of a suspected rental fraud being committed using local online classified ads.
“The scammer allegedly copied images and detailed rental information from online advertisements associated to real Central Okanagan properties and then created a fictitious ad on an alternate site with altered contact information,” said said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, in a press release.
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The scammer’s ad is often detailed with a fictitious back story outlining the reasons for the property being rented out. Typically once a fraud victim shows any interest in the property, the scammer emails a rental application.
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“In this particular case the fraudster later contacted the victim by phone and advised that their application was accepted,” said O’Donaghey. “While pressuring the would-be renter to secure the deal, an e-transfer deposit of approximately $1,000 is requested and a promise is made to promptly courier the premises’ keys, which of course never show up.”
RCMP offer the following tips:
- physically go to the property and book a viewing, when searching for rentals;
- conduct your own open source queries to ensure the advertisement isn’t a duplicate;
- do not transfer funds to unknown individuals;
- trust your instincts, if it doesn’t seem right, don’t do it!;
- consult with a friend or family member first;
For more information on this scam and others, please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at www.antifraudcentre.ca
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