What are Rental Scams:
Scammers usually target young people, either looking for their first apartment or looking for somewhere to live while in school. They purposefully list the rental unit at very cheap and/or affordable rates - to attract these types of people. When questioned about the affordable price, they may even state that they prefer renting to students, out of good nature. Ads may even blatantly say “students only” and may help as a red flag for detecting these early on. Sometimes these people may even contact you first via email, text or social media. The scam works by the scammer getting their victim to send them a down payment for the unit then vanishing, and taking off with their money.
How Rental Scams Operate:
In an apartment or home rental fraud, scammers create an advertisement often on reputable social media or advertising websites. Rental frauds sit inside the category of Marketplace scams.
You find yourself gazing at a stunning rental, and for below average market price, so you approach the landlord. They explain that you are not allowed to see the apartment until a down payment is sent and processed. They send you a few legal documents to be virtually signed, then the scammer requests the payment be sent using a Bitcoin ATM service. This is usually because they are out of town and unable to take cash or an E-transfer and have a property manager (or other individual) that will be doing the showing. They tell you that your payment is safe as long as you have the Bitcoin transaction ID; this of course is a lie and the funds are instantly sent in cryptocurrency and not reversible. After confirming payment is in a fake escrow the individual and the ad will soon vanish.
How to Protect Yourself from Rental Scams:
- Do not send funds before seeing the property.
- Do not move the conversations off the site where the ad is to a platform like email or SMS.
- Do not sign anything before meeting the renter in person.
- Meet the renter at the property before sending any money.
Never send a payment for a product from a 3rd party that you do not trust through Bitcoin. Marketplace scammers look to make a quick buck from doing this. Share with a friend how rental frauds operate so they can be prevented and help prevent other Canadians from being defrauded. Report the advertisement or individual if you come across a rental scam. Never trust an individual solely over the internet for renting property. Renting a property is something that must be handled in person with a viewing and lease signing before any funds are exchanged.
If You Are a Victim of a Scam:
See our guide on what to do if you are the victim of a scam / fraud.
You can also view the links below for more information regarding Rental Scams: