Friday, July 19, 2024

More victims come forward in Ottawa rental scam

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More people in Ottawa have come forward who say they’ve fallen victim to a real estate scam, with scammers posing as real estate agents trying to rent real properties.


“It makes you very vigilant, it makes you very untrusting,” said Jenna.


Jenna has been staying with a friend for the past few months. She’s out thousands of dollars after the rental home she was supposed to move into back in March turned out to be a scam.


“I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I was set to move in in about one to two weeks. I had called all the utilities to switch everything over, switch my address, everything had been set up, movers etc. so there was a lot of tears and anger.”


The place she found was listed on Facebook Marketplace in Findlay Creek, set up by a scammer using information taken from a real listing.


She went to see it in person then filled out a rental application with the scammer without knowing it and sent the money to a person who was not legitimately renting the property and it’s gone.


“They seem to be the middleman,” Jenna said. “The scammer pretends to be the prospective renter to the agent and the scammer pretends to be the agent to the prospective renter.”


We’ve heard from several other people with similar stories. They all saw properties for rent in person, thinking they were dealing with the real listing.


All of them received emails signed Home Run Realty which is a real business, but the emails are fake.


“How brazen they are is shocking to me,” said Amber Sauve, a realtor with Keller Williams Integrity Realty.


Sauve says she was recently impersonated on one of her listings and the person doing it sent prospective tenants to her open house and tried to take their deposits.


“We found out later, through one of the potential tenants who reached out to me to verify that he wasn’t ever speaking to me, that they had impersonated my emails and used my name, and they had just asked him for the deposit,” she said. “He was seven minutes from sending that deposit.”


Many of the properties originally listed on Realtor.ca are showing up on Facebook profiles like Bsv Liberty that has since been deleted.


But they aren’t just collecting money, they’re collecting personal details like Social Insurance Numbers and financial information from fake lease agreements.


“We are sorry this is happening,” said Marvin Alexander, president of Keller Williams Integrity Realty. “It’s certainly not our fault but we’re going to do everything we can to inform our realtors, our agents and other brokerages that this is happening. We need to be collaborative and doing our best to protect the public.”


As for Jenna, she’s a single mother who has lost $7,200 after sending three months’ rent.  The family has launched a GoFundMe page to support Jenna.

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