Police warn of rental scams after victim swindled out of first, last month's rent

Waterloo regional police are warning apartment hunters to be cautious after a renter was scammed into paying first and last month’s rent for a unit that wasn’t truly on the market.

Uptick of online transactions amid pandemic may be making people vulnerable, police say

Waterloo regional police say they learned of a rental scam in Kitchener Sunday and believe there may be other victims. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Waterloo regional police are warning apartment hunters to be cautious after a renter was convinced to pay first and last month's rent for a unit that turned out to be scam.

Police say the victim responded to an online ad for a rental unit in Kitchener. The alleged scammer made excuses about why they couldn't see the unit in-person, but told the victim they could drive by the place as verification. The victim paid first and last month's rent over e-transfer before becoming suspicious about the situation.

"They went back to the area where the apartment was and was able to speak with people in the area and realized that this was an ongoing scam," said public information officer Const. André Johnson.

Johnson said the victim contacted police about the scam on Sunday. Investigators now believe there may be other victims and are urging anyone with information to come forward.

Police also say anyone who is looking for a new place should follow certain safety precautions, such as:

  • Schedule a viewing of the property.
  • Be aware of current market rates for rentals.
  • Be cautious of anyone who wants money wired out of the country or sent via e-transfer.

Johnson said the pandemic may be making people more vulnerable to scams, as people are encouraged to stay home and are turning to the internet to find jobs and buy items online.

"It has left people more susceptible to online scams and fraudsters are taking advantage of that," he said.

"It is a trend that we have been seeing and we're just reminding the public to be vigilant, to verify all the information as best as you can before sending any funds. And likely, if it seems too good to be true, it is."

More information about rental scams is available on the regional police website, Johnson said. 


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