Waterloo police issue warning after residents lose $60K in rental scams in 2020

Police warn of rental scams currently making the rounds in Kitchener.
Police warn of rental scams currently making the rounds in Kitchener. File / Global News

Waterloo Regional Police have issued a warning to residents about rental scams as they say people have been bilked out of around $60,000 so far this year.

They say that there have been 32 victims of rental fraud scams between Jan. 1 and July 31.

Read more: Waterloo police issue warning after resident duped out of $500 in coronavirus-related puppy scam

Younger people and students are most often the victims of these scams.

In many cases someone will pose as a landlord renting a property in preferred location. They will ask applicants to answer a questionnaire which provides personal and financial information.

After accepting the offer, the victim will then send money to the scammer for rent but they do not discover it was all a fraud until they are awaiting a set of keys.

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Police say that in one instance, the victim, who was seeking to rent an $1,850 per month house in Kitchener, contacted the scammer who claimed to be living in another province. The huckster asked the victim to forward $1,850 while saying he would mail the keys upon receiving the money. The keys never arrived so the victim eventually discovered the house did not exist.

Read more: Online fraud has doubled in Waterloo Region amid coronavirus pandemic: police

The police are asking residents to schedule a viewing of a property, be wary of transferring money out of the country and to survey the market for reasonable rates.

They also suggest having a friend look over the contract before you sign it, be wary of people looking to get you to sign on quickly and if they are unable to answer reasonable questions, walk away.

Police are warning residents to be careful when providing personal banking info with owners or fellow renters as they could use the info for fake ID purposes.

As always, if a deal appears too good to be true, it probably is.