An individual trying to rent property in Oak Bay was scammed out of $2,250 last week.
According to Oak Bay Police, the victim corresponded with someone online who claimed to own a home in the 2000-block of Goldsmith Street but said they lived abroad in Spain.
They instructed the victim to wire the money as a deposit in exchange for the promise of a key that was supposed to be mailed to them but never arrived.
The individual then visited the property themselves only to find residents who let them know that the house was not for up rent and that the homeowners lived on the main floor.
In the wake of this incident, Oak Bay Police have issued a reminder of the three common types of rental scams seen in the area:
- Obtain up-front money by collecting a deposit or the first month’s rent
- Get people to buy online directories of homes supposedly for rent
- Trick victims into signing up for credit monitoring
They have also issued the following fraud indicators to watch out for when considering renting a property:
- The owner is out of town, and you cannot see the unit in person before sending money.
- There is a “for sale” sign in the yard.
- The alleged owner or property manager wants money through Western Union, MoneyGram, or a gift card. No legitimate business gets paid this way.
- The rent advertised is well below market rates.
Police also advise prospective renters to first conduct an internet search on the property they are interested in by doing a reverse image search on Google or tineye.com to check for multiple listings.
It is also possible to cross check for multiple listings by Googling an interesting phrase in the property description, or search for the address of the unit.
If seeing the unit in person, make sure to check the ID of the individual showing the place to make sure you are dealing with the property owner or manager.