RCMP are warning people not to be scammed into paying damage deposits for fictitious rental properties in Calgary and Red Deer.

In three separate scams on the online classified ad website Kijiji, culprits show photos of houses in Red Deer that are supposedly for rent, police said.

When contacted by potential tenants, the rental scammers claim to be out of the country and tell the victims to send a damage deposit and first month’s rent through a transfer service such as Moneygram or Western Union, said Corp. Sarah Knelsen.

The culprits promise to send the keys once they receive the money.

In reality, two of the houses advertised for rent are really for sale. In the third instance, a scammer attached an image of a Red Deer house to a fake Calgary address.

“Some scammers also ask victims to fill out rental application forms with personal information that could then be used for identity theft and other financial fraud,” said Knelsen.

Police offered some safety tips for potential renters:

  • If you can’t view the inside of a home, don’t provide a deposit.
  • Be suspicious of a price that seems low for the size or location.
  • If the photos look professional or include flowery descriptions, they might have been copied from real estate listings of houses for sale.
  • Steer clear of ads that ask for information such as age, occupation, income, gender, bank information or Social Insurance Number.