It’s not uncommon for spikes in fraudulent rental scams this time of year targeting people looking for short-term housing such as recent university graduates and families vying for vacation rentals.
In one of Canada’s priciest market with high demand and low vacancy rates, the Better Business Bureau of Mainland British Columbia said in a warning in late July that its the perfect storm for fraudsters to capitalize on.
“Students are looking to find their first homes after graduating from school, add that on to the pressure of families looking for vacation rentals, and this is the perfect storm for a scam artist looking to cash in,” said president of BBB Simone Lis.
Since 2021, the number of reported scams has increased by 160 per cent, with the average loss per incident roughly $1,230, according to Li.
The scams usually involve a fake listing posted online, with an in-person viewing a promised option only if the interested person first makes a payment.
“Once the renters send payment to secure the listing, they often find out that the property doesn’t exist, is unavailable for rent, or isn’t the scammer’s property to list in the first place,” the bureau explained in their statement.
The bureau suggests doing research on the listing or lister to see if the same advertisement is posted under other cities online. If making a payment, ensure it is traceable such as through cheques or electronic transfers.