Warnings of a rental scam are being issued in Red Deer.
RCMP have received three complaints this week of people paying in advance for rental properties found on the Kijiji shopping website, only to discover that those properties do not exist.
“Rental scammers claim to be out of the country. They instruct victims to send the damage deposit and first month’s rent through an untraceable wire transfer service such as Moneygram or Western Union and say they will send the keys once they have received the money,” says Cpl. Sarah Knelsen, media relations officer for the Red Deer City RCMP.
Victims may also be asked to fill out a detailed application form, exposing themselves to further fraud by providing sensitive personal information.
People looking for a new place to live are being advised to be especially cautious and consider the following safety tips issued by the RCMP on Friday:
l Do not pay a deposit if you are not allowed to view the inside of the property.
l Be aware of prices for similar properties. If it sounds to good to be true, it usually is.
l Scrutinize the photos carefully. Professional photos or photos of model homes may have been lifted from a real estate site. Photos of low quality or showing only a single feature such as the bathroom may indicate that the person who made the ad does not have access to the house or apartment.
l Be leery of long, flowery descriptions of rental properties, which may have been copied from a real estate listing. Descriptions of issues such as roof repairs or furnace upgrades should be a red flag, since those items should not be at issue to renters.
l Do not respond to ads asking for personal information.
l Review Kijiji’s “Staying Safe on Kijiji” tip section.
l Visit www.antifraudcentre.ca for more tips.
Knelsen also asks people to help vulnerable friends and family members recognize and protect themselves against fraud.