Fraud Alert: Rental Scam

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Written by Greg Beneteau

Over the past week, there has been an increase in the number of attempted frauds on thecannon’s classified listings.

Users report that a person posing as a graduate student named "Carolyn McCash" or "Lisa Adams" from overseas has been responding to classified ads for rental properties. The scammer has been known to use multiple email addresses, including [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected]

Someone posing as the student or their parent claims that they will be moving to Guelph in the winter and require a place to live. After making contact with the property owner, the person will send a cheque or money order for an amount much greater than the asking price, and ask that the difference be wired back to an address overseas.

The wire transfer or money order "overpayment" is a common fraud that gives the illusion of secure payment where none exists. Users should never agree to wire funds to a seller. A legitimate seller will not pressure you to use a money transfer company only.

Further, users should never allow renters to pay more than the asking price – this is a common scam.

While we understand that it is sometimes necessary for overseas tenants to look for rental properties in Guelph while they are living outside of Canada, renters take on significant risks when dealing with these customers. For this reason, thecannon encourages property owners to deal only with renters local to them, and vice versa.

Users are reminded that thecannon does not review classified ads before they are posted on the site. Please see thecannon’s Best Practices Guide for tips on how to avoid falling victim to online fraud.

Thecannon relies on users to help identify scammers on the site. If you suspect that a classified posting is either fraudulent or illegal, we encourage you to contact us through the feedback form available on the site or by emailing . If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud, we further encourage you to contact Guelph Police Services (www.guelphpolice.com) and the RCMP anti-fraud Call Centre (www.phonebusters.com) to register a complaint.The tollfree phone number for the program is 1-888-495-8501, and email: [email protected]

Remember that vigilance and caution are your best defense against unscrupulous posters. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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