The Brockville Police Service are receiving increased reports involving online rental scams and frauds. The typical scam involves a Kijiji advertisement claiming to have a property for rent. The victim makes contact and then is asked to forward a portion of the rent via E-Transfer, or Money Wire Transfer. The victim will eventually determine that the property is not for rent and is often unable to recover the funds sent. Brockville Police are asking the public to consider the following in an effort to prevent becoming a victim of these scams.
Advice for Renters:
– 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.
For more information on Fraudulent Rental Scams:
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/
Internet Fraud Complaint Center: http://www.ic3.gov