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Crime

B.C. wildfire evacuee falls victim to rental housing scam

Wildfire evacuee Jennie Fournier.
Wildfire evacuee Jennie Fournier.

A woman who was forced from her home near 100 Mile House on Friday because of the 5,000-hectare Gustafsen wildfire, says she has fallen victim to a rental scam while searching for a temporary home in Vernon for herself, her boyfriend, her four-year-old daughter and her cats.

“I put out an ad on Kijiji. And I said ‘Cattery evacuated from forest fire, looking for home to rent in Kelowna-Vernon area,” Jennie Fournier said.

LISTEN:  CKNW’s Emily Lazatin talks to wildfire evacuee Jennie Fournier

Fournier says someone immediately texted her after she posted her ad.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire status Tuesday: Williams Lake remains under evacuation alert

“He gave us this story and said he was a firefighter and he was from Fort McMurray, he’s been through this and he wanted to do something nice and help somebody.”

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Screenshot of some of the texts sent between her and the alleged scammer.
Screenshot of some of the texts sent between her and the alleged scammer.

Fournier went back and forth over how much to pay as a deposit.

She settled on $350 by electronic transfer.

READ MORE: Video shows terrifying drive to escape B.C. wildfire

“He made us feel really comfortable, he was really elaborate about the house and explaining it in detail, and he sent us a bunch of pictures.”

Screenshot of some of the texts sent between her and the alleged scammer.
Screenshot of some of the texts sent between her and the alleged scammer.

Feeling uneasy, she asked her daughter’s father to check out the home in Vernon Tuesday afternoon.

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“He drove there and apparently the address is a brand new complex and they are building houses but that exact address isn’t there yet.”

She says it was an elaborate scheme. When she tried to call the man back, all she heard was “call rejected.”

“And it was a Fort McMurray number.”

Screenshot of some of the texts sent between her and the alleged scammer.
Screenshot of some of the texts sent between her and the alleged scammer.

Fournier says she called her bank in an effort to get the money back and police and was told not much could be done and the money isn’t traceable.

She’s currently staying with her mother in Lone Butte, a community 15 minutes outside of 100 Mile House.

CKNW has reached out to Vernon RCMP for comment.