Vancouver-area contractor nearly swindled by scammer who claimed to own an unsold home

Click to play video 'New scam targets B.C. contractors' New scam targets B.C. contractors
The Better Business Bureau is warning about a new scam that targets contractors. Our Consumer Matters reporter Anne Drewa has the story.

A Metro Vancouver contractor is warning small businesses after he nearly fell victim to a scam that could have cost him thousands of dollars.

“He says he was willing to put down a deposit on his credit card without even coming to our office and seeing what we’re about,” said contractor Wilson Lin, the owner of Construct x Design Ltd.

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Lin was referring to a fraudster who contacted him via email, saying he found his contracting company on the Better Business Bureau’s website.

At first, Lin said he thought it would be his big break.

“Oh cool, another job. This is like a dream come true,” said Lin.

The scam artist gave Lin the address to a Vancouver property he said he had just purchased and was in need of a major renovation.

“I was pumped. He even complimented our work. He said he took a look on our website and said you guys seem like the right fit,” Lin said.

He wrote Lin stating, “I will make [a] deposit with my credit card once you get me an estimate, so you can proceed working on my property before I get back to town.”

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Lin was suspicious and contacted the real estate agent who allegedly sold the house that was supposed to be renovated.

“I contacted the real estate agent. He told me no one has even made an offer on the house. That was the biggest giveaway that this was not real,” said Lin.

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Lin reported the incident to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) who said this was likely another instance of the overpayment scam.

“[Fraudsters] are trying to move money around, trying to get you to deposit a fake cheque and then withdraw that amount and send it off to another vendor. It appears what was going on here,” said the BBB’s Evan Kelly.

Tips to help you avoid avoid falling victim to the overpayment scam:

  • The potential customer claims to be out of town and can’t meet in person
  • The client claims to have paid too much
  • The client only wants to communicate via email or text messaging.

The BBB also recommends asking for personal references and proof that the client actually owns the property scheduled for work.