Beware of online rental rip-off
Published Friday, June 29, 2012 5:19PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, June 29, 2012 6:58PM MDT
Police are investigating a rental scam that has bilked desperate victims out of thousands of dollars and left them with no place to live.
Investigators are looking for a man believed to be involved in at least six rental fraud scams in Calgary and Vancouver.
The scam involves online rental ads and works like this.
First the scammer lists a condo for rent online.
Next the possible renter meets with a man who claims to be the realtor handling the rental.
The potential renter is then asked for a cash deposit between $1400 and $1800 to hold the unit.
The would-be-renter is left on the hook when they find out that the realtor has no connection to the owner of the condo, that the condo isn't actually for rent and the whole set up has been a scam.
Stan McFarlane owns one of the condos that has been used by the scammer in online ads.
He has received calls from at least 20 other victims and believes the fraudster has probably made more than $50,000.
“It's sad that there are people out there that can just do that,” said McFarlane.
A special investigations unit has been set up following multiple rental fraud complaints against the same individual this year.
Police are warning the public to be careful when responding to online rental ads and suggest people do a quick land titles search and speak with building managers to make sure they are dealing with the real owner.