Police Warn Landlords to Watch for Rental Scam

by Chris on September 10, 2012

Police have warned landlords to watch for a scam involving student rentals.   Niagara Regional Police Service in Ontario says that every year it receives calls from landlords who have been defrauded, and asks that landlords take steps to protect themselves.  Similar reports have been made throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The scam takes two forms:

Fraudsters respond to ads by email or phone claiming to be an out-of-town student or parent of a student and offer to rent the apartment.  The suspects then forward a check for payment of rent for the full year. 

A short time later, the suspects will claim to have decided to attend another college or university and ask for their money back — minus a small amount for the landlord’s trouble. 

The suspects will ask that the funds be returned by money transfer to an out-of-town or overseas location. 

Alternatively, the suspects will send a check in an amount greater than the rent, claiming the extra funds are for moving or transportation expenses for their ‘child’ and ask that the funds be forwarded to a third party to assist with the move or transportation, again by money transfer.
Inevitably, the checks provided by the suspects will be returned as counterfeit and the victims will be held responsible for any funds sent to the suspects.

A similar scam has been reported by landlords in the Chicago area, and in North Vancouver. See our post, Landlords Fall Victim to Rental Scam, for more details.

According to the NRPS, this scam is expected to continue into the school year as suspects target landlords who are having trouble renting their apartments.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Kwapis September 11, 2012 at 11:45 am

This scam is getting traction in the University Towns. I am an owner of a single family dwelling in Waterloo Ontario. Besides the ridiculous bi-laws imposed by the city, the small home landlords are targeted by this scam. I had a few of these email inquires over the summer when I posted vacancy on Kijiji and Gottarent. I almost dismissed a legit visa student arriving from China because of this scam. To ensure legibility, I have emailed my rental application and requested to be completed and returned with a scan of the student visa, the passport and acceptance letter, before proceeding with the request for rental. There was no cheques involved. The final transactions were done when the visa student physically arrived to Waterloo. Unfortunately there is no way of doing a background check in this scenario.

SteveI September 12, 2012 at 11:25 am

These type of scams are increasing every year. Make sure you do proper tenant screening using the tools provided by a great company like TVS!

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