Would-be renters warned about online housing scams in Metro Vancouver

May 25 2022, 4:29 pm

Mounties in Coquitlam are warning about an increase in scams involving would-be renters looking for somewhere to live.

In all of the cases, the victims found the ad on an online marketplace.

The RCMP says it has received several reports of fraud in the housing market in the last few months — and in one case, someone didn’t find out until the day they were set to move into a new place.

“In one situation, the victim reached out to the person who posted the ad and sent a deposit and half a month’s rent through e-transfer without ever viewing the rental suite. When the victim attended on the move-in date she realized the property was not for rent and contacted police,” reads the release from Coquitlam RCMP.

In the second instance, RCMP says the victim communicated with the suspect online and met the suspect outside of the apparent suite for rent.

The suspect made up an excuse about how he could not show the suite and provided a professional-looking contract for the victim to sign.

The victim handed over cash for a damage deposit before realizing it was a scam and contacting police.

“In an extremely competitive rental market, these fraudsters are taking advantage of renters’ need to secure accommodation,” states Corporal Paige Kuz, Media Relations Officer for the Coquitlam RCMP. “Fraudsters can be very convincing, but as a renter, prior to any money changing hands, there are some precautionary steps you can take to protect yourself from falling victim to scams such as this.”

A recent report from rentals.ca says that 2,500 purpose-built rentals are expected in 2022 in parts of the Lower Mainland, but that amount is “not nearly enough to satisfy the demand in a healthy market.”

The report predicts that the cost of renting in Metro Vancouver will continue to rise throughout the year due to a number of factors.

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