North Bay Police say there have been reports of rental scams in the area and are warning people to do some research before paying in advance.
The scammers take first and last month’s rent payments from victims by advertising fraudulent apartments online.
"Be careful when you are looking for an apartment online," warns spokesman David Woolley. "The North Bay Police Service has recently received reports that scammers are posting fraudulent ads of apartments for rent on online marketplace websites."
When a victim shows interest in the apartment, the scammers ask them to fill out an application or lease agreement and ask for the first and last month’s rent. After the victim has paid the amount, the scammers cut off contact.
"The apartment listings use images and details about real residences in North Bay that are not for rent," explains Woolley. "This is done without the permission or knowledge of the current residents and owners. In some instances, after paying first and last month’s rent, victims attended the address only to learn that they had been victims of a scam."
The Competition Bureau of Canada provides ways to protect yourself against rental scams:
- Go to the address, and make sure the listing is truthful and accurate. If you are unable to go in person, use the Internet to see actual images of the rental.
- Research the address to ensure it is not a duplicate post. You may even conduct a reverse image search to see if the photos were used elsewhere.
- Schedule a showing and confirm that the landlord will be present.
- If you plan on renting in a new development, contact the builder to confirm ownership.
- Request a lease or contract. Review it thoroughly.
- Be sure to know your rights as a tenant. Consult your provincial or territorial department or ministry of housing.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of this or any other scam, contact the North Bay Police Service at 705-497-5555.