The RCMP is warning the public about a rental scam after a Nanaimo man was defrauded out of several thousand dollars.
The incident occurred earlier this month and involved a home in the 600 block of Bowen Road.
According to an RCMP press release, the victim told police he had responded to a rental ad on the website Zillow after he found a home to his liking. The man began communicating with a woman, who went by the name Ginger Reed, who was listed on the ad.
The woman allegedly asked for one month’s rent up front and another month rent in order to turn the keys over. She provided an e-mail address for an e-transfer and told the victim the keys and documents for the home would be delivered to him once the money was received. She then sent the man a copy of lease documents and her identification.
The victim went to the home listed on the ad the following day and was surprised to find it occupied with several vehicles parked in the driveway. He was able to confirm through a friend that Reed’s name was not on the ownership title of the home and at that point he concluded he had been scammed.
The complainant contacted police and handed over the fake documents that he received. Investigators contacted the website and the advertisement for the home was taken down. The investigation is continuing.
“There were several red flags in this transaction; however, the man cannot be faulted as this was a fairly sophisticated scam,” said reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, in the press release.
Police offer some warning signs to look out for when entering into a rental agreement.
Tenants should be leery if the landlord does not meet them in person, if the landlord does not require credit or reference checks, if the landlord’s name is not on the rental documents, if there is a different name for the recipient of an e-transfer, or if the home is already occupied.
Prospective renters should also do a Google search of the address and landlord, talk to neighbours of the property and arrange to do a walk-through of the rental unit.
Police also recommend people become familiar with B.C.’s residential tenancy rules and regulations and the B.C. Residential Tenancy Act by visiting http://rb.gy/bpipcj.
For more information on current scams, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
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