TORONTO – When you rent an apartment, you may be asked to pay the first and last month’s rent in advance, but you need to make sure you pay it to the right person.
Toronto Police say rental scams cost renters and landlords money and some criminals try to rent apartments they don’t even own.
“I was living in a house with a friend in Scarborough and he’s getting married, so I had to go out and find a new place to live,” Tyler Sarry said.
Sarry found an apartment on Kijiji and went to visit the property.
When he went to visit the accommodation, there were two people: one claiming to be the owner and the other claiming to be the outgoing tenant.
Sarry agreed to take the unit and was told to transfer $ 2,500 by wire transfer to keep the apartment.
But Sarry said shortly after noticing problems with the rental agreement. He said he felt uncomfortable about the deal, then found out that the unit was in fact rented through Airbnb.
“There were people who rented the unit through Airbnb for a few days or a week and they acted like they owned the unit,” Sarry said. “Then they rented it out for the long haul.”
Sarry said he contacted his bank to stop the wire transfer, but it was too late.
“I hope they could do something at this point, but right now they’re saying I sent the money and it’s gone. He’s gone, “said Sarry.
Const. Julie Campbell, of the Toronto Police 43rd Division’s fraud squad, said rental scams were rife during the pandemic.
“Obviously, anyone can print a rental application from the Internet,” Campbell said.
Often thieves will use COVID-19 as the reason rental accommodation cannot be seen in person, she added.
“They can say ‘I’m the owner and I can’t show you the place because of COVID. “’I’m in quarantine’ or because ‘I’m a long haul truck driver’ but they’ll say it’s such a good deal, you have to wire transfer now if you want to keep it,” Campbell said. .
Campbell advises anyone looking at a unit to google the address and watch out for any other red flags. Police say rental scams can often be priced too good to be true, and there is usually pressure to act quickly.
Police say they were able to make an arrest in Sarry’s case, but the $ 2,500 was not recovered. Sarry is a personal trainer who said he was unable to work out consistently due to the pandemic.
“I hope there aren’t more people in the middle of the pandemic trying to do this to people,” Sarry said.
If COVID-19 restrictions allow it, many people could start thinking about their summer vacation. However, just like the scam Sarry fell victim to, cabin rental scams are also set to be a big deal this year.
Be careful not to send someone money to rent a chalet that may not be theirs or that does not even exist.