North Vancouver RCMP are warning scammers are taking advantage of the tight rental market to fleece would-be renters.
Police have received several reports of victims being defrauded out of rental deposits after responding to local apartment ads on Craigslist.
People feeling desperate to find a home have been pressured into providing a deposit for a unit, which is not owned by the person advertising it and not actually up for rent. Typically, the actual owners are unaware their homes are being used as bait, according to the RCMP.
“First-time renters and those not familiar with rental rules and laws tend to be easily swayed. Don’t pay any monies up front before you have an opportunity to view and verify the rental unit,” said Cpl. Richard De Jong, North Vancouver RCMP spokesman in a press release.
Warning signs that something may not be above board include rental rates unusually below typical market rates, warning that the suite can’t be viewed, the landlord only communicates via email and refuses to meet in person, and that they demand money up front.
West Vancouver police, meanwhile, are issuing a fresh warning about the infamous “grandparent” scam, after a local senior was nearly taken by it.
The fraud typically involves someone cold-calling a senior and pretending to be one of their grandchildren in distress. Most often they plead for money or some valuable object to be sent in the mail in order to help them get out of trouble – medical expenses or court fees, often in a foreign country.
In August, a West Vancouver woman was duped into buying a $40,000 Rolex watch and sending it to a stranger in Quebec. On Monday this week, a Park Royal jeweller called police when a 75-year-old West Vancouver man came in looking to buy a watch he said he needed to help his nephew.
Police intervened and the fraud was halted.