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Kingston homeowner, police warn about online rental ad scam

Without his knowledge, William Taylor's rental ad was used by an online scammer who has been taking security deposits from people looking to rent the home.

Without his knowledge, William Taylor’s rental ad was used by an online scammer who has been taking security deposits from people looking to rent the home.

Kingston has a vacancy rate hovering around 0.6 per cent, according to the city of Kingston. Therefore, it’s no surprise that renters are having a difficult time finding a place to live. This is the kind of desperation that has been exploited in yet another online scam.

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In August, Taylor placed an ad on Facebook, renting his house for $2,550. Since then, he’s had multiple people stop by his house to look at it. It wasn’t until two individuals showed up expecting to rent his house, without his knowledge, he knew there was something going on.

Taylor told Global News that one woman came to his property expecting to rent it out after she claims to have wired $800 as a security deposit to someone online by the name of Johnathan Ray.

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Johnathan Ray took Taylor’s exact ad but changed the contact information and lowered the rental cost to $800/month for the entire house.

Another renter named Rob Kelsey came close to falling for Ray’s scam. Kelsey exchanged several emails with Ray, but never ended up sending him the $800 deposit he asked for.

“My biggest concern is that this guy is scamming the most vulnerable people and the police seem to be ignoring it,” says Taylor.

Kelsey says he reported the incident to Kingston Police. However, he says police couldn’t do anything since no money was sent and therefore no crime was committed.

Kelsey even sent a text message to Ray saying, “I have the money but really can’t afford to get scammed ….”

Ray replied, “I was not trying to lure you into this, everything about me and my house are 100% real.”

Shown below is the rental agreement Ray sent to Kelsey.

Fake rental agreement  

 

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“Even though vacancy rates are currently low in the city it is still important to do your due diligence, that means meeting with a landlord and to do a walk through before providing a deposit,”  Const. Ash Gutheinz, a media officer for the Kingston Police, told Global News.

Despite what happened, Taylor says he is still planning on renting his home online.  

But he wants people to know that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. 

Kingston Police are advising any victims of rental scams to contact them.

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