Sooke homeowner caught in the middle of online rental scam

Sooke homeowner caught in the middle of online rental scam

WATCH: It was quite simply a nightmare. A Sooke woman advertised her suite for rent online and soon her pictures and address were used for a fake ad. Suddenly she had aggressive and at one point, threatening strangers showing up at her home insisting they were moving in. Luisa Alvarez has the story.


It started when Kara Prachnau listed a suite above her art studio on Kijiji for $1,195 a month.

Suddenly strangers started showing up at her door, peering into the window and trying out the doors.

She figured out why when people responding to her online advertisement told her they saw another ad on Craigslist with her pictures and address advertised for only $500.

“They were wondering what I was up to thinking I was doing something fishy and that’s how I was first alerted,” said Prachnau.

Sure enough, she looked on Craigslist and there it was. Her pictures and address with a slightly different message on multiple ads.

“It was always the same: ‘I’m in the UK right now. I cant meet you there but please go to the property look in the windows try the doors and once you’ve deposited the deposit and first months rent, I’ll Fed-Ex you the key overnight and you can have access to your home,” said Prachnau.

Prachnau reported the ads to Craiglist but each time they were removed new ones would pop up with different contact names, phone numbers and different emails.

And people kept responding, Prachnau says close to 200 people showed up ready to move in.

“Sometimes there were four vehicles at once and they were all arguing who was going to move in. She says at one point, a man who came in a truck got aggressive and she feared for her safety.

“He said he was moving in one way or another and it could be the easy way or the hard way. My friend actually came and took me off the property he said ‘let him break in, you have insurance, the police will take care of it,you need to go,'” said Prachnau.

Prachnau said there was nothing police could really do and the constant arrivals continued for about three weeks until all of the ads were removed.

But now Prachnau says moving forward, she feels safer only listing her property for short-term rental.

According to the Better Business Bureau (B.B.B.), these kinds of rentals scams aren’t uncommon.

To avoid falling victim to them, it’s important to know if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. Also, try and see a unit in person and never send money to someone you haven’t met.  For more information or to report a scam visit the B.B.B website. 

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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