BROCKVILLE – A detective with the Brockville Police Service says rental frauds through online classified service Kijiji are on the rise in the city.
“Last week at a presentation I had lots of questions about them as well,” Det. Sgt. Tom Fournier wrote in an email to Brockville Newswatch Monday.
According to police, the typical scam puts a property for rent online and then the scammer collects a deposit through e-transfer or money wire transfer.
By the time the person figures out the actual property is not for rent, the money is usually not recoverable, police said.
Police are offering the following tips to make sure you don’t get taken on your next vacation rental:
- Avoid ads that are “too good to be true.” Ads for apartments or houses with rents significantly below market value are almost always lures used by scam artists. Check other listings in the general area and see what the going rates for rentals are before responding.
- Always see the rental in person before sending any money or providing personal information such as your social insurance number, or driver’s licence number, even if it’s just to fill out an application. It is NOT recommended to do business with an overseas landlord unless you have personally verified their identity and that they actually own the rental advertised.
- Dealing locally is best. The safest way to deal is in person and face to face. Be suspicious of the prospective landlord only wants to communicate using electronic means, is currently out of the country or residing overseas or far from where the apartment is located. Be extremely suspicious of a perspective landlord who refuses to talk on the phone or claims they cannot talk on the phone.
- Exercise extreme caution before wiring deposits or rent payments, especially to foreign countries. Money transferred overseas is very difficult to recover from fraudulent schemes and will likely result in a losing all of it. Electronic money transfers and specifically wire transfer services are very popular for Internet scams because the funds are available instantly, untraceably and worldwide.
- Scan any attachments from landlords with anti-virus software before opening. One of the latest scams involves a “landlord” e-mailing an unsuspecting renter additional photos of the apartment for lease. However, one or more of the e-mail attachments contains a virus that can fool your Web browser to make it appear as though you’re going to a legitimate site but in fact are being sent to a site controlled by the scammer. The best way to protect yourself is by using commercial anti-virus software, keeping it up to date and by scanning all e-mail attachments before opening or double-clicking them.
More information on vacation rental scams is available on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center website.