Vancouver Police say they are zeroing in on suspects in an online luxury condo rental scam that has cost would-be tenants tens of thousands of dollars.
While rental scams sadly aren’t new in Vancouver, this particular approach is what CBC Vancouver calls “a new twist.”
In this “sophisticated con” operation, suspects posing as reps for luxury rentals with the faux business Pacific Luxury Realty post phony ads on Craigslist, using photos stolen from actual realtor listings.
In one particular instance, a two-bedroom Shaw Tower unit up for sale was advertised as a rental by the scammers, and the suspects then posed as the real listing agents in order to lead tours to prospective tenants. The suspects managed to lure in multiple renters with the offer of a discount for paying six months of rent up front, which came to $26,000.
A victim of the scam told the CBC the company seemed legitimate, since they were able to twice tour the property, and their references on the application were checked by the company. But when it came time to move in, the would-be renters couldn’t access the unit, Pacific Luxury Realty and their website were gone, and they were out $26,000.
The Vancouver Police Department says they are aware of over $100,000 in phony payments for just one unit, though they believe they have a bigger problem on their hands. Victims of scams involving rental units in Coal Harbour, Yaletown, and even Whistler have come forward recently.
So far, the VPD has identified numerous suspects, and have made one arrest, according to CBC Vancouver. Authorities hope to build as big a case as possible with Crown counsel in order to lay charges against the suspects.
Featured image: Shaw Tower (lawrence’s lenses/Flickr)