Renters ripped off online

Quebecers denounce ruthless scammers exploiting housing crisis to steal money from vulnerable tenants desperate before May 1ah July.

• Also read: Housing shortage: 110,000 more apartments are urgently needed

“I was discouraged to find a place for six months. I took the bait. Half of the ads I look at now on Facebook Marketplace are scammers. It’s terrible,” said Robin Lefrançois angrily.

Robin Lefrançois, who was looking for an apartment in Laval, lost $900 in an online scam.

With kind approval

Robin Lefrançois, who was looking for an apartment in Laval, lost $900 in an online scam.

This Laval resident thought he found the rare pearl on an online classifieds site. An Ontario woman named Angela Ménard offered him a place next to his mother’s where he could move in with his cats.

Disappeared with the deposit

Only problem, this lady required a $900 deposit to ensure the man would show up when visiting the Laval property.

“We chatted on Facebook. They were real writing people. I sent the money without giving the secret reply to the Interac transfer. They were able to collect the $900 with no response. The scam is well organized,” warns Mr Lefrançois.

He says he has just two weeks to find accommodation before July 1.

The newspaper easily found a dozen tenants like Mr. Lefrançois from across Quebec who fell victim to scams this month.

visually impaired girl

So is Jennyfer Laforge, a single mother of three young children in Beauce. She tirelessly searches for a suitable home for her six-year-old daughter, who is visually impaired and suffers from Möbius syndrome, which is characterized in particular by facial paralysis.

“The house for rent was perfect for us and is located in Beauce. The alleged owner told me he lived in Montreal and charged the first month’s rent of $1,200. It was sure that I would not let him down, ”says Mme Wrought.

The mother therefore agreed to pay her the deposit. She later discovered that the house was not for rent but was being sold by a real estate agent. The announcement on Facebook Marketplace was therefore wrong. Jennyfer Laforge then realized that $1,200 had just been stolen from her.

“The police and the bank tell me there is nothing they can do. i am discouraged It’s annoying because it’s money you never see again. I’m a single parent. With inflation and the price of gas, everything costs more. I didn’t need that. My dream of this house was shattered,” she laments.

Fraud for 10 years

Stéphanie Séguin and her young daughter were also scammed out of $800 by posting bail on an apartment in Gatineau.

With kind approval

Stéphanie Séguin and her young daughter were also scammed out of $800 by posting bail on an apartment in Gatineau.

Stéphanie Séguin also lost $800 by posting bail on an apartment in Gatineau. The scammer used the same scheme on her.

“I tried to confront him but they said, ‘Good luck finding myself, I’ve been doing this for 10 years.’ […] When I found out I had been scammed, I cried. That was all my savings. A chance that my family helped me afterwards,” explains Mme Séguin, mother of a 10-year-old girl.

♦ Remember that according to the tribunal administratif du logement, a landlord cannot demand payment in excess of one month’s rent, or require additional amounts as a deposit or anything else, for example to ensure that the keys are handed over.

Tenant Fraud Systems

  • A landlord is abroad at the time of the rental. He therefore asks that an amount of money be paid to him by electronic transfer as security.
  • A landlord who does not want to move for nothing asks for a deposit by electronic transfer before handing over the apartment.
  • On average, scammers ask their victims for a deposit of one to two months’ rent $500 to $1200depending on the apartments.
  • Regardless of the excuse given, an amount of money is always asked for.

Source: City of Montreal Police Department

How do you spot the scam?

  • The address of a rental unit should be given in the advertisement.
  • Searching the Internet for the address of the accommodation for rent can determine whether Internet users have been victims of fraud.
  • Enter the address of the building in Google Maps and compare certain architectural elements.
  • A landlord should be reachable by phone, not just email.
  • Visit the apartment before signing the lease.
  • If an offer seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

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