Shuswap rental scam bilks people out of thousands of dollars | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Shuswap rental scam bilks people out of thousands of dollars

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
April 26, 2021 - 10:15 AM

RCMP are warning people looking for a home to rent in the Shuswap to be wary of scammers.

A fraudulent listing in Salmon Arm recently ripped off prospective renters of at least $3,000, according to an RCMP news release.

"With less and less rentals available, it can be easy to be taken advantage of, especially if you're moving to a community by yourself and are unable to personally visit the property in person," Southeast District RCMP spokesperson Cpl Jesse O'Donaghey said in the release.

One victim made two e-transfer payments totalling nearly $2,000 in an effort to secure a basement suite on 18 Street SE in Salmon Arm, but he was told the rental suite does not exist when he arrived to take possession.

Another victim looking to relocate from the Lower Mainland paid $1,000 and shared personal identification with the fraudster. Only to become suspicious when she was asked to pay in Bitcoin and gift cards, RCMP said.

RCMP say this type of scam is not new, and while the fraudulent landlord will usually have a reason to avoid showing the home in person, police warn it is important to take precautions.

"It might not always be easy, but always make sure that you or someone you trust visits a property first before any funds changes hands. Also, take added steps to confirm the person renting the property is its actual owner or representative," O'Donaghey said. "Taking the time to talk to neighbours in the area or a building’s care taker can save you a whole lot of precious time and money in the end."

RCMP have a few tips to avoid being scammed for prospective renters, like arranging for a trusted person to see the property if the renter cannot visit themselves.

They also advise to search the property online to check for a history of scams and talk to neighbours in the area, ask to see utility bills and ensure a proper rental agreement is provided and signed.

Lastly, making payments with a cheque or bank draft is more reliable to than cash or e-transfer and should help weed out potential fraudsters.

If you have been scammed of money or have provided personal information to a potential fraudster, please report the incident to your local RCMP or police of jurisdiction and contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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