Salmon Arm  

Several people have fallen prey to a rental scammer in the Salmon Arm area

Beware rental scams

Rentals in the Shuswap area are few and far between, and scammers are taking advantage of the situation.

RCMP have a warning for people: when it comes to renting an entire home, an apartment or a basement rental suite, if it sounds too good to be true, it just might be.

Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey said in recent days, Salmon Arm RCMP has received complaints involving people who were reportedly scammed out of hundreds of dollars in e-transfer payments after falling victim to an online rental scam involving a property nestled in the Shuswap region.

In the most recent case, the victim made two e-transfer payments of nearly $2,000 to secure a basement suite said to be situated in a home on 18 Street SE.

“The victim travelled to Salmon Arm, set to take possession of his new rental, when he was advised no such rental suite existed,” said O'Donaghey.

“Investigators have determined that additional individuals looking to relocate from each the Lower Mainland and Northern BC have also been victimized by the same fraudster.”

A woman from the Lower Mainland posted an online ad seeking a rental in Salmon Arm, the suspect replied, claiming to have a suite for rent.

“In this particular case, the victim not only paid $1,000 to secure the rental, but shared personal information along with photocopies of personal identification,” said O'Donaghey in a press release. “The victim became suspicious when the scammer began to ask the woman to purchase Bitcoin and gift cards for him.”

O'Donaghey said the scam is not new and can happen on any online platform or website. In some cases, scammers will pull photos from legitimate listings or properties for sale and present them as their own.

Typically, they will have a reason as to why they are unable to show the property in person. In each of these cases the fraudster claimed to be residing in Ontario.

“With less and less rentals available, it can be easy to be taken advantage of, especially if you’re moving to a community by yourself and are unable to personally visit the property in person,” said O’Donaghey. “It might not always be easy, but always make sure that you or someone you trust visits a property first before any funds changes hands. Also, take added steps to confirm the person renting the property is its actual owner or representative. Taking the time to talk to neighbours in the area or a building’s care taker can save you a whole lot of precious time and money in the end.”

Tips to avoid rental scams:

  • Arrange for you or someone you trust to visit the property in person;
  • Talk to others in the area to confirm who owns the property;
  • Conduct an online search of any photos of the rental or the address to see if it has been associated to scams in the past;
  • Ask to see previous utility bills for the address to confirm the person is indeed the landlord;
  • Ensure a proper rental agreement is provided and signed by both parties;
  • Consider paying with something other than cash of e-transfer, such as a personal cheque, a bank draft or certified cheque;

If you have been scammed of money or have provided personal information to a potential fraudster, report the incident to your local RCMP or police of jurisdiction and contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

Visit the BC RCMP website for more information and tips to avoid rental scams or visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website for more information on scams and frauds.

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