A would-be tenant from Oak Bay reported that he was scammed $2,250 last week for a rental suite that was allegedly available.
The victim said the landlord was a male who claimed that he owned a suite here, but resided in Spain. The victim wired the money and was promised that a key would be mailed to them. Later, the victim attended the alleged suite but was informed by its occupants that the suite was not for rent. The actual homeowners resided on the main floor of the residence.
It’s not the first rental scam reported to Oak Bay Police, who list some red-flags for prospective tenants seeking a place.
In this case, it is often a scam when the owner claims they are “out of town,” and you cannot see the unit in person before sending money, said Oak Bay Police Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties.
Also be sure to visit the building to see if there is a for-sale sign in the yard. In many cases, rent is also advertised below market rates. Alleged owners or property managers will often ask for money transferred through Western Union, MoneyGram, or a gift card.
“No legitimate business gets paid this way,” Bernoties said. “Those looking for a rental [suite] should first conduct an internet search.”
It is possible to do reverse image searches by posting the photo into Google image search or Tineye.com to check for multiple listings.
“Also search by using an interesting phrase in the description,” Bernoties said. “And search for the address of the unit.”
Don’t be shy, be sure. Bernoties suggests asking the landlord or homeowner for identification to make sure you are dealing with the real property owner or manager.