Taija Bennett has been spending most of her time recently looking for an apartment for her and her seven-year-old son.
“So I have been given a two-month eviction notice as of the beginning of September so I’ve been frantically trying to find a place to live.”
Last week, she found what she thought was the perfect rental apartment on Craigslist: a furnished one bedroom, plus den, located in Langford near her work for $1,800 a month.
“I was speaking to someone on Thursday evening, last Thursday evening, and the gentleman was very nice,” Bennett explained. “It was a real rental suite and correct ad.”
She emailed the landlord and, after a number of emails, signed the rental agreement.
Then e-transferred him half a month’s rent, plus $1,400 for the damage and pet deposits totalling $2,300.
“I believed everything was legitimate though I was tricked. Very tricked.”
Turns out the landlord and the rental agreement were all fake.
A scammer copied the original ad.
It’s called the house rental scam.
Criminals find a legitimate listing of a house or apartment on Craigslist, then they re-post it posing as the landlord.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, most rental scams go unreported.
In 2020, the Centre received 267 reports involving 386 victims whose losses totalled more than $586,400.
Likely a fraction of the real victims, and losses, but it leaves Bennett and her son in a precarious position.
“Without a permanent place to stay as of the end of this month, I don’t actually have a definitive home with my seven-year-old son.”
Bennett went to the police and filed a complaint.
In a statement, Coast Capital Savings said it could not comment on the case, but it is an active file.
As for Bennett her only advice to prospective renters looking on Craigslist?
“At least for, like, people to be aware and be really careful when they are responding to posts.”