B.C. wildfire evacuee falls victim to rental scam
'That's pretty horrible especially with everything I'm going through right now'
A B.C. woman who was ordered to evacuate due to a wildfire near her home in B.C.'s south Cariboo region says she has fallen prey to a rental scam.
Jennifer Fournier, who owns a cat boarding and breeding business in 105 Mile House, said she went to an online classified service to find a place for her family and 18 cats after she was ordered to leave her rural home on Friday.
Fournier placed an ad on Kijiji for a place that could accommodate her boyfriend and four-year-old daughter, as well as her cats, 11 of which are kittens.
She says she received an offer from a couple living in Vernon, B.C. The woman claimed to be a nurse, and her spouse said he was a firefighter working on the wildfires.
"He [the husband] sent me pictures of the home, and it was like really nice looking," said Fournier.
The couple told Fournier the house could be rented for $700 a month and her family and pets could stay as long as they needed.
"They [said they] just wanted to do something nice, because he had been in that kind of situation before," said Fournier.
Fournier said after texting the couple and making arrangements, she sent a $250 deposit. But she soon felt uneasy with her decision, even though the property appeared on Google Maps. She asked a friend in the Vernon area to track it down.
"He drove there, and it was like a brand new lot. And there's like houses being built all around it. But that specific address did not exist," said Fournier.
Fournier asked the man to return the money and arranged for him to hand it to her friend in Vernon.
The man agreed to give back the money, she said but asked for another $200 to meet Fournier's friend. When Fournier refused to pay more and requested her money back again, the man disconnected his phone, she said.
Fournier contacted her bank, and the CIBC fraud department told her it would do its best to get her money back but couldn't promise her anything.
Fournier's husband, Eli Roy-Brown, says they filed a complaint with the Vernon RCMP who told him this type of crime is hard to prosecute and advised people to use PayPal when entering into these types of transactions.
"That's pretty horrible especially with everything I'm going through right now," said Fournier.
Meanwhile, friends of friends in Salmon Arm have offered Fournier a motor home and shelter for her cats.