Beware the rental scam - Macleans.ca

Beware the rental scam

Kamloops student out $1,000 and has no place to live

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Photo courtesy of nkeppol on Flickr

A Thompson Rivers University student is out nearly $1,000 after he was scammed online. He showed up at an apartment on Arrowstone Drive in Kamloops that he thought he’d rented, sight unseen, by sending his deposit in the mail earlier in the summer.  The building manager had never heard of the person who he’d sent the cheque to. The 22-year-old student will now need to find a new home.

It’s common for fraudsters to pretend to be a landlord by posting online and then asking students to send a cheque or money order for an apartment that can’t be viewed. Often, the scammer says they’re out of town on business and that the student can drive by the place, but can only view photos of the interior. This type of scam was prevalent in Calgary in 2009.

In April, Waterloo police warned against a variation on the rental scam in which the student owns the property. Thieves will pretend to accidentally overpay for an apartment using a fake cheques. Then, they ask for the difference to be returned to them before the bank realizes the cheques are fakes.