The North Bay Police Service says it has received reports of scammers taking first and last month’s rent payments from victims by advertising fraudulent apartments online.
The agency says the fraudulent ads of apartments for rent were seen on online marketplace as well as websites.
“When a victim shows interest in the apartment, the scammers ask them to fill out an application and, after claiming their application has been accepted, request first and last month’s rent,” share police in a statement. “After the victim has paid the amount, the scammers cut off contact.”
Police say the apartment listings use images and details about real residences in North Bay that are not for rent and is done without the permission or knowledge of the current residents.
“In some instances, after paying first and last month’s rent, victims attended the addresses on their scheduled move-in dates only to learn that they had been victims of a scam,” reads the statement.
The Competition Bureau of Canada provides some warning signs of a scam to look for when searching for a rental online:
- The monthly rent is lower than other similar places
- You’re asked to leave a deposit without any formal rental agreement or lease in place
- You’re asked to send money to someone outside the country
- When you ask about the apartment, you get an email that sends you to a website asking for personal or financial information
- Ads show pictures of the outside of the property only, or pictures that don’t match the actual property or address
The Competition Bureau of Canada also provides ways to protect yourself against rental scams:
- Go to the address, make sure the listing is truthful and accurate. If you are unable to go in person, use the Internet to see actual images of the rental.
- Research the address to ensure it is not a duplicate post. You may even conduct a reverse image search to see if the photos were used elsewhere.
- Schedule a showing and confirm that the landlord will be present.
- If you plan on renting in a new development, contact the builder to confirm ownership.
- Request a lease or contract. Review it thoroughly.
- Be sure to know your rights as a tenant. Consult your provincial or territorial department or ministry of housing.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of this or any other scam, contact the North Bay Police Service at 705-497-5555. Those wishing to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.nearnorthcrimestoppers.com.