(Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash)

(Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash)

Trail renters warned to watch for viral scams

The Better Business Bureau is advising of rental scams with a unique “COVIDIAN” twist.

The Better Business Bureau is warning the public of rental scams with a unique “COVIDIAN” twist.

And Greater Trail is not immune to these types of online scams.

Last year at least two rental frauds were reported, one in Tadanac where a house ‘for sale’ showed up as a rental listing on www.prop2go.com, and another in East Trail where a home was fraudulently listed as a rental property on the same website.

“These types of rental frauds are common where the fraudster attempts to have the victim send him/her a deposit of untraceable electronic funds to ‘secure the rental,’” Trail RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich explained to the Times.

Millions of scam listings for apartments, houses and vacation properties appear online, however, the BBB (Better Business Bureau) is urging the public to watch out for a recent scam that exploits the safety precautions brought on by COVID-19.

Fraudsters search for information about legitimate rental or sale properties on specialty websites. Then they copy the ads and repost them on a different platform, usually on Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace, and pretend to be the owners.

In order to attract interest, the rent amount for the property is usually below market price.

When consumers contact the scammer, they are invited to see the apartment/house but are informed that due to COVID-19 restrictions, they are unable to meet in person for a viewing.

The scammer encourages the potential renter to visit the property and do an inspection from outside.

If they wish to proceed with the rental, the scammer tells them to make a payment online for the first month’s rent or a security deposit.

The scammer also promises to make arrangements to sign the lease agreement once COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, and urges victims to make payment as soon as possible to secure the rental.

“An advertised rental may seem like the perfect fit for you but it may be a scam”, says Karla Laird, Manager for Community and Public Relations at BBB serving Mainland BC. “While we have not received any COVID-19 rental scam reports for our province, we anticipate this could be a new scam trend and are urging consumers to be on the lookout.

“Last year, more than five million people across North America lost over $500 to rental scams, and with COVID-19 adding further opportunities for scammers, this could lead to a spiral in reports across Canada”.

Popular online marketplaces for renters such as Craigslists, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace have taken steps to screen and minimize fraudulent postings, and, while these efforts are commendable, consumer reports suggest that some ads have evaded their efforts.

BBB offers the following tips to the public:

– Do not send money to anyone.

– Avoid making payments to a landlord who you have never met in person.

– You should be able to inspect the property yourself to determine the authenticity of the offer.

– Be wary if the alleged owner or property manager wants money through Western Union, MoneyGram, or a gift card.

– Do a web search about the person or property in question. A simple review can reveal a lot of vital information about the property, the landlord or real estate agent in charge of it. Does the property exist at that address? Does the same photo appear at different locations?

Search the entire Craigslist site for duplicate ads.

Avoid any unrealistic promotions, offers or rentals advertised well below market rates. This is a classic strategy to lure in rental scam victims.

Watch out for virtual tour offers. Scammers sometimes offer a virtual tour of the home instead of a real visit.

To avoid being scammed, visit the property you are interested in renting. Ask to see inside. If you cannot, walk away from the offer.

If you have spotted a scam where fraudsters are impersonating local businesses to deceive consumers, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker.

City of TrailLocal NewsScams

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin makes preparations at Toronto’s mass vaccination clinic, Jan. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
3 deaths, 234 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

One death connected to outbreak at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, where 20 patients and 28 staff have tested positive

Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran in his Creston home. Hanging on the wall behind him is a logo of Kachin’s Manaw festival. Photo: Aaron Hemens
From Myanmar to Creston: The story of a refugee

In October 2007, Zaudanawng “Jay-Dan” Maran and his friends encountered a woman being sexually assaulted by two Myanmar soldiers.

The trial of Harry Richardson began Monday at the Nelson courthouse. File photo
Trial of man accused of shooting RCMP officer near Argenta in 2019 begins

Harry Richardson is facing five charges in a Nelson courtroom

Gerald Cordeiro of Kalesnikoff Lumber Ltd. says the company is looking for a non-profit organization to take over and run its proposed agroforestry project. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Logging company proposes agroforestry project for Nelson area

Kalesnikoff Lumber is floating the idea of growing trees in conjunction with food crops

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Kamloops This Week.
48 COVID-19 cases and one death associated with outbreak at Kamloops hospital

One of the 20 patients infected has died, meanwhile 28 staff with COVID-19 are isolating at home

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

Most Read