Agent warns of rental scam

A real estate agent wants to warn the public about a rental scam that almost involved a vacant home listed for sale.

A real estate agent wants to warn the public about a rental scam that almost involved a vacant home listed for sale.

Gordon Phillips, of Maxwell Realty, said last week a woman from Ponoka called him asking if one of his listings was for rent.

“She put an ad on Kijiji to rent a home. They want to move to Red Deer. This fellow replied to her and said I have a home in Red Deer and it’s vacant and this is the address,” Phillips said on Monday.

Luckily she found out the home had a For Sale sign in the front yard.

“She was smart enough to phone me and ask is this place for sale or for rent? What’s going on here?”

The woman was falsely informed that a doctor and his wife now working in the United States for Unicef wanted to rent out their Red Deer house.

Phillips suspects scam artists look for listings of vacant homes for sale, offer them for rent, and arrange a payment prior to the move in date before renters find out the house does not belong to them. “I think what they probably do is go on MLS. Maybe our rules need to be changed with the real estate board and we maybe shouldn’t be putting on the listing that the homes are vacant.”

RCMP Cpl. Sarah Knelsen said she has heard of this particular scam, but not lately.

“Anytime you’re on any Internet website you have to be cognizant that there are scams. It’s always best to research what you’re looking for. If it’s too good to be true — then usually it’s a scam,” Knelsen said.

She urged anyone who has been affected by a rental scam to contact RCMP right away.

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