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Summer is quickly approaching and that means many people will be looking for a new rental property as lives shift, semesters end or job contracts come to a close. The problem is, there are still plenty of scammers trolling websites like Craigslist and legitimate, free rental sites waiting to prey on those in Vancouver thinking they are getting a good deal.
BBB serving Mainland BC has received two complaints recently on its Scam Tracker web page where the victims lost a combined 7 thousand dollars.
“In one case the victim was simply too trusting,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “All of the red flags were there. The victim found a scam listing on the website The offer was a bargain, the landlord claimed they were having a hard time finding a renter before they had to move to Nigeria of all places. I find it hard to believe any condo owner in Vancouver would have a hard time finding renters. The scammer got away with over three grand.”
In this case, the victim was required to send the deposit to via wire transfer through Western Union and the landlord would then send the keys. This is a typical ploy. The scammer apparently keeps contacting the victim to try and get more money out of him. Police have been notified but there is likely little they can do.
Tips on how to recognize a rental property scam:
Watch out for deals that are too good to be true. Scammers lure you in by promising low rents, extra amenities, great locations, and other perks. If the price seems much better than offered elsewhere, it may be a scam. This should be easy to spot in a market like Vancouver where prices tend to be very high.
Search online for the listings, or the scammer’s email address or phone number. If you find the same ad listed in other cities, that’s a huge red flag.
See the property in person. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it is what was advertised. And don’t fall for the overseas landlord story: Scammers often claim to be out of the country and instruct targets to send money overseas.
Verify the Address. Do a general web search for the address listed, and if possible, drive by the rental yourself. Generally, no address equals nothing to rent.
Don’t wire money or use a prepaid debit card. You should never pay a security deposit or first month’s rent by prepaid debit card or wire transfer. These payments are the same as sending cash – once you send it, you have no way to get it back.
Free website listings. These are easy avenues for scammers to post ads. If not vetted properly even legitimate websites are used to lure victims.
Watch out for identity thieves. If the property owner emails you a link to fill out a credit application, be cautious. Only give out personal information in person after viewing the property or on trusted and secured websites.
Post Source: BBB