The Ottawa Police Service Organized Fraud Unit is warning residents about two ongoing rental scams that affected several people in September.
The first is an apartment rental scam where prospective tenants view photos of a place they want to rent via an online platform. Police say they then contact the fraudster who tries to gain the victim's trust while telling the interested party about others who are interested and a monthly rental rate below market value, which adds pressure to sign promptly. Both enter into a lease negotiation and the fraudster will either require a deposit (half-a-month to two-months rent) by e-transfer. The victim then visits the location on a set date and time only to find out that the unit is currently rented.
Victims of this scam include international students, out-of-town citizens and Ottawa residents.
The second scam is known as the "rental parking scam," where fraudsters will respond to a person's online advertisement looking for parking, or offer a parking spot via an online platform. Police say the price and leasing agreements are then negotiated and a deposit is requested via e-transfer to the suspect. In some cases, victims only found out about the parking scam when they started using the parking spot and received a warning from the true parking space owner.
This scam has mainly occurred in the central part of Ottawa.
The Ottawa Police Service is concerned that there are other victims who may have also lost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars through these scams.
If you have been a victim, please report the incident online.
The Organized Fraud Unit would like to remind consumers to be vigilant when purchasing items/services from unknown persons online.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call Ottawa Police's Organized Fraud Unit at 613-236-1222, ext.5433. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll free at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or by downloading the Ottawa Police app.