Rental scam snares Terrace resident

RCMP report outlines details of a scam that preys on those looking to rent

  • Jun. 23, 2014 4:00 p.m.

Here is the Terrace RCMP’s analysis of the crime and how to spot it:

The rental scam is a spin of the classic scam in which a con artist tries to sell you something that they clearly have no authorization to sell. This is where the common expression “If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you” comes from.

Education is the best defence against scammers. Know what scams look like and how to protect yourself from becoming a target. Crooks use the Internet to find their victims, but the Internet is also a great place to find crooks. Search a name, phone number, address, etc. that is given to you when conducting transactions. In this recent incident in Terrace the victim searched the name provided to her after the fact and found that they were wanted for fraud in the USA. This search needs to be the first step, says Cst Angela Rabut, Community Policing/Media Relations Terrace RCMP.

The rental scam is commonly perpetrated by crooks who copy Craigslist or Kijiji postings for rental properties. The crook will change the contact information and maybe even lower the price to make the offer even more attractive. Then they will repost the same pictures and description with the changed contact info. When inquiries respond to the ads, the phony landlords or owners usually have a story as to why they aren’t available to show the property but invite the prospective renter to drive by and take a look. The ruse is discovered when a deposit is sent and the phony landlord has become unreachable and disappeared.

Some red flags to serve as cautions when looking for a rental property are:

  1. Owners who are in a hurry to rent a unit and are offering a lease at well below the going rate for the location and type of property:
  • Sometimes people do have to move abruptly before they can arrange to lease or sell their previous homes, and sometimes renters will have need to fill a particular vacancy quickly and will therefore offer a property at a discounted rate. But these are exceptional conditions, so leases offered under these circumstances should also be subject to exceptional scrutiny.
  1. Owners who do not make a property available for inspection by prospective renters:
  • Sometimes an abrupt move or other exigent circumstances will preclude an owner’s being available to personally show his property to prospective tenants, but it’s an extraordinary condition when a legitimate owner can’t (or won’t) arrange for someone else to handle the task of showing a rental property for him. A renter who puts down money on a unit he hasn’t been allowed to inspect to his satisfaction, inside and out, is asking for trouble. (Keep in mind that property managers, landlords, and owners generally don’t want to rent to unseen tenants any more than tenants want to rent unseen properties.)
  1. Owners who require you to pay money — in any form — in advance of providing you with a signed rental agreement and the keys to the property:
  • If you’ve demonstrated your bona fides, your ability to pay, and your interest in renting a property, the lessor should have no problem turning the property (and a copy of the signed lease) over to you at the time you make your initial deposit or rent payment.

Read more on scams at External link, opens in a new windowwww.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.c