Internet apartment scams hit Yellowknife

Fraudsters are listing Yellowknife apartment ads on Craigslist and using recent northern air tragedies to rip people off.

Fraudsters use recent air tragedies to rip victims off

A new rash of internet scams have come to Yellowknife, N.W.T. and fraudsters are posting advertisements for apartments on Craigslist that don't exist.

The tactics internet scammers are using seem to be changing. One fraudster posted an ad saying she had a one-bedroom apartment available for $600 a month.

On the posting, she writes the apartment is empty because he parents tragically died.

The listing writes, "my parents actually resided in the property before they were involved in a plane crash which took both of their lives... I am in Spain... that is why I decided to place it for lease."

Staff Sgt. Paul Prue from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says using the recent northern air tragedies to rip people off is something he's never heard of.

"We're getting to the lower levels when that is coming out as a reason to rent a property, that's for sure," said Prue.

Jessica Goldstein spotted a rental scam when she used the Craigslist site to hunt for apartments in Yellowknife. (CBC)

Jessica Goldstein moved to Yellowknife from Vancouver. She looked to Craigslist for an apartment, but says there were few listings.

One of the posts she responded to sent up red flags.

"He started talking about the damage deposit right away, sending him a money order or a cheque for a damage deposit, so I knew right away it was a scam," she said. "And it was a one-bedroom for seven or eight hundred dollars. One of those things, if it's too good to be true it probably is."

The scammers can be convincing. Some provide photos and even an address.

A scammer was trying to rent an apartment in this Yellowknife building. The owners say no such apartment exists for rent here. (CBC)

One person posted an address for an apartment in Yellowknife, but the company which owns the building says the apartment doesn't exist.

"It is very frustrating from a landlord position," said Bruce Bentley, Maclab Enterprises. "We are offering a legimitate service and we certainly have a set of standards. We would never want that to be damaged by someone who's obviously doing something that is not correct."

The RCMP warns anyone using public listing sites such as Craigslist or Kijiji to be careful. If the posting is poorly worded, the apartment is very cheap, or the lister asks for money upfront, it's likely to be a scam.