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House listed for sale? Scammers could be trying to rent it out

WATCH ABOVE: A Guelph realtor was busy trying to sell someone’s home when she got a surprise call: Without her knowledge, or the owner’s, someone else was trying to rent out the home. As Sean O’Shea reports, she says money and a quest for identity documents was behind the scam.

A Guelph, Ont., real estate agent says she discovered recently that something strange was going on with the house she was trying to sell.

Kerry McCarl told Global News she was tipped by a call from someone who had seen her “For Sale” sign on the front lawn.

“Somebody had driven to the location, saw the sign and called me and asked if it was for rent as well as for sale,” said McCarl, a RE/MAX agent.

READ MORE: B.C. couple sounds alarm over online scam advertising listed New West home for rent

After asking questions of the caller, McCarl said she learned that the home had been listed on another website for rent without her knowledge or the owner’s consent — but why?

“For the purposes of getting a rental deposit,” said McCarl, adding when she responded to the same advertisement without disclosing her occupation she was asked for a copy of her passport and $500.

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The home was listed for rent on a website called Prop2Go.com. The company did not respond to emails from Global News seeking comment. It isn’t known if the owners of the website have any knowledge about the authenticity of the advertisements.

READ MORE: Brampton man charged with rental fraud after 17 people allegedly scammed out of apartment deposits

McCarl and other real estate agents said they are seeing multiple examples of listed homes because put forward as rental properties.

“It’s definitely not right. It’s scary. People are trying to get other people’s identification,” said McCarl.

When the realtor reported the problem to police, she said she was advised nothing could be done until a victim who lost money came forward to file a complaint.

In the meantime, McCarl said she filed a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre in North Bay, Ont.

READ MORE: 28 people come forward to police in west-end Toronto condo rental fraud investigation

Since discussing the issue with others, she says some people have expressed criticism of anyone who would fall for the scam. But McCarl says a tight rental housing market means some renters will leave their guard down.

“When you have a crisis situation people tend to do things that we wouldn’t rationally or normally do,” she said.

For example, some scammers who employ the technique tell prospective renters to ignore a “For Sale” sign on a front lawn. To explain the sign’s presence when the property is supposedly for rent, the scammers explain that they’ve had disagreement with the agent and the realtor is no longer representing the owner but the sign hasn’t been removed yet.

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When renting a property, it’s best to show up and speak to the landlord or listing agent in person. Be careful how much information you share with others, research the person or company renting the property and never share your social insurance number if asked.

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