April 19, 2017 11:51 pm

Rental scams on the rise: How to protect yourself

WATCH: A Vancouver Island couple were shocked to find out the home they’d just listed for sale, was listed for rent on Craigslist. Our Consumer Matters reporter Anne Drewa has the details, and some advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.

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A tight rental market is proving to be a great opportunity for scam artists taking advantage of unsuspecting people looking for a place to rent.

Gord Percival was recently alerted by a private citizen about an Craigslist ad that list his home, which was for sale, as a rental.

“I think it’s horrible the way they are taking advantage of people, especially the way the market is now,” said Percival.

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Photos of the home were poached off of realtor’s Kirsten Marten’s website as was detailed information about the house. Marten said it’s the first time she’s been targeted, but says it’s happening much more frequently.

“The first time we really started hearing about it was in January where we started hearing of more and more photos being scooped and every week now you are hearing about them happening more and more often,” Marten said.

RCMP say it’s difficult to track down the rental con artists because they’re often outside the country.

“Being online you could be all over the world and be able to conduct these scams so it makes it very difficult for police to track these down,” West Shore RCMP Const. Alex Berube said. “The best advice we can give to people is to be in touch with your realtor and arrange a meeting with the landlord face to face.”

The Better Business Bureau says you shouldn’t wire money or use a prepaid debit card. Also, don’t fall for the story about a landlord who happens to be living out of the country and instructs a renter to send money overseas.

Also, be skeptical of a rental price that appears much lower than other listings.

Percival eventually sold his home and the Craiglist ad has since been taken down, but he’s offering this piece of advice for future renters:

“Go with your gut. If something’s too good to be true, then it probably is.”

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