Police in Calgary are warning the public about an internet rental scam that bilked at least one person out of hundreds of dollars.

A fake advertisement on the website Kijiji offered a four-bedroom house for rent on Mount Aberdeen Grove S.E. for $1,000 per month.

But the online entry was actually a fraudulent version of a legitimate ad, which offered the property for $2,000 per month. Someone had copied it, changed some details and made the price more appealing, police said.

Of the five Albertans who complained to police, four realized the ad was a scam when they noticed the real one.  

But one prospective renter wired a $600 damage deposit to the suspect, who is believed to live in New York state, police said.

"This particular ad was getting 800, 900 hits. So a lot of people were taking a look at it. It is an excellent opportunity for a fraudster," said Const. Martin West.

Because the money was sent out of the country, investigators in Calgary have little chance of prosecuting anyone in this case, he added.

Police gave the following tips for renters to avoid getting swindled:

  • Only deal with local landlords.
  • Be suspicious if you're asked to use a wire transfer.
  • Be wary of emails written in poor or broken English.
  • Research the average rental rates in an area. Be suspicious if the rate seems too good to be true.
  • Never give out personal information such as bank account or credit card numbers.