Liberty Village 'cool guy' facing more accusations in alleged rental scam
Mike Lemke allegedly owes thousands to prospective roommates as more people come forward to CBC Toronto
A Liberty Village man described as "laid back cool guy" is facing more allegations that he scammed people out of money, a place to live, and even a used car, following a CBC Toronto story earlier this week about his activity in the trendy Toronto neighbourhood.
Mike Lemke, 33, advertised a Liberty Village room for rent on Kijiji, accepted cash deposits of more than $2,000, but then — according to his prospective roommates — failed to rent the room and in some cases kept the money.
CBC Toronto has spoken with 13 people who say this happened to them.
Eight say they are still owed money — in some cases the full deposit — for a total of $14,150 between them.
All this was happening in a high-end condo unit at 69 Lynn Williams St., where Lemke was in the process of getting evicted after allegedly failing to pay his rent for several months.
CBC Toronto has spoken with the landlords of four Liberty Village condos who say Lemke stopped paying rent after his first month and eventually disappeared without paying.
In one case, the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board ordered Lemke to pay $17,000 in arrears.
CBC Toronto has learned Lemke has also gone by the name Mike Krug and is originally from Brantford, Ont.
He has not responded to repeated phone calls and emails.
Toronto Police have now received multiple reports about Lemke. An investigation is ongoing.
More alleged victims
Poonam Agarwar moved to Toronto from India last July and Lemke was one of the first people she met, she says.
Agarwar, 26, had a job in IT but needed an apartment when she found Lemke's listing online.
"I met him, saw the place, the condo was great," Agarwar said in an interview.
But she says Lemke contacted Agarwar the day before she was set to move in with bad news: the room was no longer available.
Like the other renters who contacted CBC Toronto, Agarwar said Lemke told her a story about a roommate not paying rent and Lemke getting evicted from the condo.
And like others, she was promised her money back. But for weeks, Agarwar says Lemke was difficult to reach, came up with excuses, and did not return her $2,300.
"It was a big amount of money. I just moved to Canada, so I really would have liked the deposit back to find a new place," she said in an interview.
She said she was finally able to get some of her deposit back after visiting Lemke's work, Love Child Social Club on Bathurst Street.
In several e-transfers, Agarwar said she eventually received $800 but has not been able to reach Lemke since.
Others who persistently dogged Lemke or sought legal advice were also successful in getting some or all of the money back.
While this alleged scam occurred in the past three months, other people from Lemke's past have come forward with similar stories.
Dana Young claims that she sold Lemke a used car in 2007 but he still hasn't paid.
Young, 43, also from Brantford, contacted CBC Toronto this week and provided the bank statement Lemke gave to her to arrange a payment plan for a 1997 Honda Prelude as well as a signed, hand-written contract.
Lemke is identified as Mike Krug on the contract but, strangely, Lemke is the name on the bank statement.
"He gave me $500, I signed over the car and never saw him again," Young said in an interview.
Young, who now realizes the deal was risky, didn't report it to police because she willingly signed the car over to Lemke, whom she described as "super charming."
Lemke's troubles with landlords also date back many years.
Lawrence v. Krause also contacted CBC Toronto following this week's story.
He claims Lemke was going by Krug in 2006 when he rented a four-bedroom house with other friends in London, Ont.
According to the landlord, Lemke's first rent cheque bounced, and he left owing several months' worth.
"After four months he just disappeared one night," v. Krause said in an interview.