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Rental Housing Fraud on the Rise:  BEWARE!!
Source:  FRPO – Press Release

Don Mills, Ontario (January 3, 2013) – The Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) is warning all tenants and landlords to be aware of an increasing number of apartment-fraud schemes. Rental scams vary but here are three of the more common scenarios:

Example 1:
A scammer poses as a landlord on websites such as Craigslist or Kijiji and says they are out of the country and require a deposit on the rental apartment. Once the money is paid, usually through a money transfer, the new tenant discovers there isn't actually a rental home available, and their money is lost.

Example 2:
A scammer has somehow obtained access to a property or place. They pose as a landlord / property manager and show the victim the property. They then request an immediate down payment to secure the property and inform the victim they can move in at a later date. On the move-in date, the victim arrives only to discover it wasn't actually an available rental home and there have been other victims as well.

Example 3:
A scammer poses as a tenant and responds to internet advertisements for rental apartments. The suspect contacts the landlord by email only. The "tenant" advises they are currently out of the province, but they will send a pay-cheque or bank draft as a deposit to secure the rental. The cheque will be more than the agreed-upon amount, and the "tenant" will direct the landlord to send the excess money to a third party. After depositing the cheque, the victim will be notified by their bank that the cheque they deposited was worthless and the landlord will be responsible to the bank for the money.

Fraud Prevention Tips for Tenants:

  • Is the price too good to be true? Check rental rates in the same area. Often fraudsters will try to entice their victims with unbelievably low prices to elicit multiple victims.

  • Are they just communicating with you via email? Fraudsters will not want to meet their victims in person to avoid being recognized and investigated by police. According to the Ministry of Consumer Services, complaints have been filed against businesses using the email addresses homematchrentals@live.ca and ontimerentals@live.ca

  • Are they asking for cash only or a cash security deposit? Never pay a rent deposit by cash. Cash is untraceable and can be used immediately.

  • Are they asking for money to be wired? Once money is wired, it is extremely difficult to cancel the transaction. Also, money transfers are difficult to trace. Never send payment electronically to in an individual you have not met.