Unscrupulous fraudsters are exploiting the housing crisis to deceive tenants and landlords by creating fake rental house ads on the internet.
“What did I think of the ad? But it’s impossible, my condo is for sale, not for rent, ”Audrey Miralt said, still shocked to see photos of her home.
MMe Mirolt is actually a condo owner in the Mercier-Hochelaga-Mysennayue borough in Montreal. His 3 1⁄2 is for sale on the real estate broker’s official website.
The problem is that the thugs, who took the opportunity, stole photos of his residence and the information that came with it in a flash. They created and posted a fake ad on the Marketplace platform, displaying a condo for rent.
Photo Chantal Poir
Kalek Brunett, who is desperately looking for a place to live for himself and his dog, has taken almost three publications of fraudsters.
With whom the fraudsters are six victims Newspaper That said, the operating system is still the same. Criminals require a cash deposit from tenants to visit the residence. The fraudsters will disappear when this amount is collected.
“A friend of mine told me that my condo had a rental of $ 1,300 on classified ads. Otherwise, I would never know. I feel really irrelevant. I wrote to my broker and he never saw it ”, MMe Miralt.
His case is not unique. Newspaper Dozens of messages were found on social networks, where Internet users were the victims of these scams.
Colek Brunett, a tenant in Chambli, knew a little bit about it. A dog owner said he could not find a new good apartment in a Greater Montreal suburb due to a housing crisis.
“I’m almost stuck. Three people tried to cheat on me during the week. Advertisements for beautiful apartments that accept big huskies like me are very rare,” laments Mr Brunett, 32.
Catherine Pepin and her friend approached to be apprehended by sending a $ 800 deposit to reserve an idyllic apartment in St. Therese.
“We had to send the money to the Rhea Company, which transfers it overseas. When we approached the counter in the name of the landlord, the employee told us that it was fraud and that he was the third person to pass today in the same apartment, ”said Ms.Me Pepin was shocked to see the scam.
Véronique Laflamme, a spokesman for the Popular Action Front in Urban Redevelopment (FRAPRU), said the scams show how frustrated tenants are.
“Everywhere in Quebec the housing crisis is worse than ever. There, we see people taking advantage of human suffering. Despite knowing how difficult it is to find accommodation, some take advantage of it and cheat. This is really behind the badly taken tenants, ”said MMe Flame.
The latter is also concerned about the fact that these types of scams are likely to multiply in the coming weeks with renewals or the duration of residential leases in March.
Listen to an interview with Catherine Lucier, Community Organizer at FRAPRU
Fraudsters who publish false advertisements for rental accommodation are known to be a police stumbling block in all major cities in Quebec. Newspaper.
Police forces in Greater Montreal, Gatino, Saint-Jean-Sir-Richelieu and Quebec City are confirming that residents of their territory have been deceived by giving money to fake landlords on the Internet.
“Yes, this is a plan known for more events from 2020,” said Franకోois Boucher, a spokeswoman for the Language Agglomeration Police Department (SPAL).
In 2020, the Police Force recorded 41 incidents related to real estate fraud. In 2021 that number will increase to 73.
The scam took place for the first time this year in Saint-Jean-Sir-Richelieu.
“This is the first time in 20 years that I have seen this fraudulent strategy with us. […] We have some cases in late January and early February, not counting those who have not formally complained. We had to post a message on Facebook to warn the public, “said Sergeant Jeremy Lewesk of the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu police department.
In Gatineau, police are also confirming that they are on the rise in a fraudulent scheme related to online housing rentals.
“The current pandemic scenario may lead some people to accept rental accommodation without visiting it. This context makes people prefer online or email exchanges rather than personally to limit contact. Fraudsters are clearly trying to take advantage of this situation.
Photo taken from Facebook
Sylvie Jutras, real estate broker
Three Quebec real estate brokers also agreed Newspaper These criminals have been targeted in recent weeks. Recently, Sylvie Jutras, a real estate broker at Proprio Direct, received an unexpected call from Sûreté du Québec (SQ).
“Imagine a woman sending a $ 1,200 check to strangers to rent a condom in McMasterville, which I’m selling. That’s a fake statement. She did not visit it and did not even rent a condo. “Me Jutras, people looking for accommodation are urged to be careful.
Like other brokers, she says she has never heard of this scam.
- Do not make a deposit without meeting the owner or visiting the accommodation;
- Check the address of the rental accommodation on Google Map;
- Doubt if the employer says he is abroad
- Be careful if the employer asks for extra fees for all sorts of excuses;
- Ask the rent if the landlord is postponing the appointment;
Source: Longuil Agglomeration Police Department