WATCH: Rental scams are all too common and fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated. Just ask a Langford woman. She thought she did everything right but she was still victimized and lost thousands. Luisa Alvarez tells us how and what you can do to make sure you aren’t next.
Shannon Shaw was excited when she thought she found a pet-friendly one bedroom suite for her and her dog on Bear Mountain. So she answered the ad on Craigslist and met up with the landlord to view it.
“He knew the couch was ripped he knew the ins and outs of the suite,” said Shaw.
She liked it but wanted to take extra precautions so when she met up with him again to fill out the paperwork and lease agreement, she asked her friend and mom to accompany her. It went well so she transferred him $2,000 dollars for the pet deposit and first month’s rent.
“They thought it was fine, they thought it was all safe, they thought since there were all these trails like I e-transferred them and everything that it would be fine,” said Shaw.
But on move-in day she found out it was a scam. Police later figured out the supposed landlord wasn’t the owner and the property was listed online as a vacation rental.
Looking back, it was just so planned out and uncomfortable,” said Shaw.
Victoria police did release a picture of 38-year-old Brandon Wildman as a person of interest in several rental fraud investigations.
While Shaw says that’s not the man who stole from her, it goes to show rental scams are prevalent.
And scammers are taking advantage of the regions tough rental market so the Canadian Aunti-Fraud Centre suggests asking the landlord for ID. It’s not required by law that they show you but refusing is a red flag.
Another recommendation is to go a step further and ask for past utility bills of the unit to confirm their identity as the landlord.
“As a tenant, you are entering into an agreement with someone so certainly knowing a bit about who they are is definitely an advantage in ensuring you have a successful relationship,” said Hunter Boucher with Landlord BC.
But before even getting to that stage there are other steps you should take.
“You want to make sure you are checking online that the person you are renting from is reputable perhaps has an online presence already from renting the unit and searching things like the address online as well to make sure its not listed on Airbnb or other listing sights and see if you can contact the owner through that way as well,” said Boucher.