Calgary family out thousands of dollars in rental scam

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Calgary family out thousands of dollars in rental scam
WATCH: A Calgary family is warning others who are trying to find a rental home. Meghan Cobb has more about a hijacked rental and a family that is now out thousands of dollars. – Jun 16, 2023

A Calgary family says they were swindled out of a half-month’s rent and are now sharing their story in the hope it will prevent others from being scammed in the same manner.

The house Angela Ilse and her fiancé Brad Macinnis were renting was recently sold, forcing them back into Calgary’s competitive rental market on short notice.

Ilse’s sister and adult nephew live with the couple, so the family was looking for a three-bedroom home to move to before the end of June. Macinnis reached out to a man on Facebook Marketplace who appeared to have helped others find rentals on the site.

“I explained to him what our needs were and he said he could help me out,” said Macinnis. “He sent me an address and a time to go for a viewing.”

Macinnis met a different man at the viewing who showed him the home and provided a different email to send financial information and a rental application. Later that evening, Macinnis received an email from the man on Marketplace following up.

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“They had told me that yes, we were approved for the property, and we had to send money to secure it,” said Macinnis.

The man from Marketplace asked for a damage deposit and one month’s rent, which Macinnis negotiated down to a half-month’s rent, a total of $3,000. The man then provided a third email address for the e-transfer.

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“I should have noticed it as a red flag because I tried twice to send the funds through and both times it was blocked by my bank,” Macinnis said.

The transfer was eventually successful and Macinnis then set up a time to get the keys and sign the lease, but that was the last he heard from the man he’d been speaking to.

Macinnis, Ilse and her sister went to the property to get the keys and sign the lease where they ran into another couple who said they were there to view the property. However, no one was at the home to show it, or hand over the keys.

“I sent several emails saying ‘what’s going on, we’re here, we’re waiting’… no replies,” said Macinnis. “At that point we all came to the conclusion that is had been a scam and we were out $3,000.”

Macinnis contacted the man who showed him the property and was told it had been rented to another family. He also confirmed that the email he had been conversing with had no association with the rental property.

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Macinnis believes the man who showed him the property is legitimately renting it, but the ad was intercepted by the scammer on Facebook.

Nowhere to go

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a rental home in Calgary and Ilse believes the man from Facebook is taking advantage of people’s need to find a home.

“Whoever these individuals are, they are feeding off people’s desperation,” said Ilse. “He can make a buck and doesn’t really care that he’s leaving people out on the street.”

Unfortunately, the street is looking more likely for Ilse and her family. Their current landlord has said they need to be out by June 17 despite not having anywhere to go.

“Initially we were going to recoup the money and go stay in a hotel,” explained Ilse. “Then we realized with Stampede, everything’s completely full.”

Macinnis and Ilse have filed a report with Calgary Police Service but aren’t optimistic anything will come from it. Their bank has also said there isn’t much to be done to return the money because it was willfully sent.

Ilse hopes their story will serve as a warning for others who are desperate to find somewhere to call home.

“Maybe people will see this and think, ‘okay, this happened to these people, this seems kind of familiar, maybe this is a scam’ and they’ll think twice before sending these people their hard-earned money,” said Ilse. “Because it’s not easy to recoup money. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”


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