Police warn against online fraudulent local apartments

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Apartment listings use images and details of real North Bay residences that are not for rent

North Bay police say they are getting reports of rental scams locally and renters should be careful.

Scammers take victims’ first and last month’s rent payments by advertising fraudulent apartments online.

“Be careful when looking for an apartment online,” read a statement from the NBPS. “The North Bay Police Department recently received reports that scam artists are posting fraudulent rental apartment listings on online marketplace websites.”

When a victim shows interest in the apartment, the scammers ask them to fill out an application and, after claiming that their application has been accepted, ask for the first and last month’s rent. Once the victim pays the amount, the crooks cut off contact.

Apartment listings use images and details of real North Bay residences that are not for rent. This is done without the permission or knowledge of current residents.

In some cases, after paying the first and last month’s rent, victims went to the addresses on the planned move-in dates to learn that they had been scammed.

Canada’s Competition Bureau provides some warning signs of a scam to look out for when researching a rental online:

  • Monthly rent is lower than other similar locations
  • You are asked to leave a deposit with no formal rental agreement or lease in place
  • You are being asked to send money to someone overseas
  • When you ask about the apartment, you receive an email that sends you to a website asking for personal or financial information.
  • Listings only display photos of the exterior of the property, or photos that do not correspond to the actual property or address

Canada’s Competition Bureau also offers ways to protect yourself from rental scams:

Go to the address and make sure the listing is truthful and accurate. If you can’t get there in person, use the internet to see actual rental footage.

Check the address to make sure it’s not a duplicate message. You can even perform a reverse image search to see if the photos have been used elsewhere.

Schedule a visit and confirm that the owner will be present.

If you are considering renting in a new development, contact the builder to confirm ownership.

Apply for a lease or contract. Proofread it carefully.

Make sure you know your rights as a tenant. Consult your provincial or territorial ministry or the Ministry of Housing.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of this or any other scam, contact the North Bay Police Department at 705-497-5555.

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