August 22nd, 2012
Rental Scam Targets Lethbridge Landlords
There’s a New Scam Out There?
The latest scam targets Lethbridge landlords. The scam is designed to take advantage of landlords renting to students in August, as many students are heading back to school.
Are the Authorities Aware of This?
Fortunately, yes. Lethbridge police have had recent reports of the scam and want to warn other landlords.
How are these Criminals Trying to Trick Landlords?
It’s all about overpayment. Criminals are posing as university students who are looking for rooms to rent for the new school year.
The criminal imposters offers the landlord one whole university term’s rent money all in one payment at the same time. Then they send a large money order or check to the landlord.
Before the check clears, these fake ‘student tenants’ will contact the landlord and request some of the money be returned. They will use a variety of excuses for the the request. These excuses include reimbursement for shipping costs or even the need for urgent unplanned travel costs.
So They Send a Big Cheque, Then Ask For Money Back…
Yes. They are relying on the fact many small landlords are trusting folks who will send some money back to help out the ‘students’.
What Happens Next?
The cheques bounce. The landlord receives nothing, money has been sent to these crooks…and the landlord has wasted time in finding a tenant.
Have Many Landlords Been Caught in the Scam?
Landlord Cheryl Meheden rents to students studying at Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge. Of six replies to her rental ads, two of them were from frauds.
Can Meheden Share Information on the Fraud Applications?
One of the fraudulent applications claimed to be from a gentleman living in Sweden who was moving to Canada to work for Yamaha. Another was supposedly from a woman in Liverpool who wanted to study in Canada.
I Hope She Didn’t Get Fooled
Meheden believed the man from Sweden was genuine. She agreed to rent to him based on his ties to a large Canadian based company.
The applicant supplied not only a seemingly credible back-story, but also wrote about his ill Mother and how much he loved Canada.
According to Meheden, they even had some phone conversations. The one thing that set her alarm bells ringing was this potential renter never asked for pictures of the rental suite.
Did He Sent Her a Rent Cheque?
Yes. A cheque for $4,200 was sent to her. After being sent, he asked Meheden to return some extra money for “shipping costs”.
Meheden didn’t fall for it. She even reported what happened to Yamaha Canada. However, landlords know how important it is to find tenants to fill their units and this scam wasted a month.
The ALA asks all landlords in Lethbridge to be aware of this scam, to be careful, and to let other landlords know about it.