The Real Estate Board of Fredericton has identified a rental scam that is currently circulating in the area. Fraudsters are advertising properties for rent on Kijiji using information and photos from legitimate real estate listings. It is suspected that the scam artist is hoping to get money from victims by collecting fraudulent damage deposits.
Last week, a local woman pled guilty to engaging in a similar rental scam that victimized multiple people. Victims reported responding to Kijiji ads for apartments or rooms for rent in the Fredericton area. The victims met the local woman at neutral locations such as the hospital, retail locations and coffee shops. According to local police, the victims paid hundreds of dollars in cash to cover the first month’s rent and damage deposits, before discovering the rental properties were not the property of the scam artist.
At FCNB we share information on the red flags of fraud and information about current scams circulating in the province in an effort to help New Brunswickers protect themselves and their communities. While scams change and adapt, the red flags of fraud tend to be common across different types of scams. The more people can recognize the red flags, think critically about offers and be vigilant, the fewer people will end up being scammed.
In the rental scam identified by the Fredericton Real Estate Board, here are some of the red flags:
- Spelling errors and typos in the ads
- Pressure to act quickly
- Asking the potential renter to ignore the for sale signs on the property
- No ability for the potential renter to see the property in person before providing a deposit
New Brunswickers are encouraged to use these best practices before paying money to secure a rental property:
- Be aware of the red flags of fraud.
- Never send money to someone you’ve never met, or only met online.
- Before signing a rental agreement and paying a damage deposit, insist on seeing the property in person. If you are moving from out of province, ask someone you know locally to look at the property for you.
- Do a reverse image search to determine if the images are shared on other websites.
- If there is a for sale sign on the property, contact the listing REALTOR®to inquire if the owner is also seeking to rent to property.
- If you are entering a rent to own situation, seek legal advice before signing a contract.
- When purchasing or negotiating on sites such as Kijiji, it is always buyer beware. When using sites such as Realtor®, you are dealing with agents who are licensed. Learn more about how licensing can protect you, here.
If you suspect that you have been targeted in a rental fraud scam, contact the police.