Calgary police are reminding anyone searching the internet for an apartment to watch out for online scams.
In most cases, a person posing as a landlord says he or she is out of the country and requires a deposit on the rental. Once the money is paid, usually through a money transfer, the new tenant discovers there isn't actually a rental.
The scam isn't a new one, but police said it's recently become more prolific and harder to spot because fraudsters are cutting and pasting text from real ads and using real photos. The only thing that is different is the contact information.
Nicole Hryciuk, 18, still hasn't found an apartment after a two-month search. Hryciuk said about half the places she's contacted online are scams.
"They'll say they are on a missionary trip. We had one, he was a 'neurologist from Oregon'. And they're not around, but this is the house you can drive by it. You send the deposit, they'll send you the keys."
CBC News inquired about six rentals advertised online in Calgary and received two emails back requesting up-front deposits. One included a Nigerian phone number, and the man who answered the phone said he was American renting an apartment in Calgary.
Acting Sgt. Kathy MacDonald said she hears a lot about rental scams and said people should check out who they're dealing with.
"Google the name of the people or the phone numbers they give you or the addresses and see what comes up," she said.
"Limit the amount of personal information that you put in your signature line, like your phone number or your fax number. Again, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
MacDonald also said watch out for anyone who wants to do business using an untraceable money transfer.