Fraudsters are taking advantage of the housing crisis in the Greater Montreal area to fool hundreds of dollars from tenants desperate to find a new home.
“That was the money to pay for the first month and get a small pillow;” Sandra Hartman, of Saint-Amable, who is looking for a home with her dear friend Sandra Cyr, says, “We lost everything.”
Recently, they claimed to have lost $ 1,800 to a fraudster while booking a home in Longueuil.
Before the visit, M.I Cyr transferred funds electronically to the alleged owner, as required, but without providing the password to cash out the amount to protect himself.
Once they got there, the person they were supposed to meet didn’t show up. The two women then found that the robber had managed to send the money in advance, without knowing how he had succeeded.
For his part, Montrealer Patrice Boisselle was ready to sign his new lease when he realized that he had lost his $ 250 deposit.
Unable to reach the person I saw an apartment in Rosemont, the 53-year-old returned to the scene, where the doorman explained to him that someone had usurped the identity of the owner.
“I was convinced that I would get my apartment on Saturday. There, I have to start the process all over again. It’s not really easy, especially in Montreal.”
Several Quebecers reported to the magazine that they had experienced similar situations or had been exposed to fraudsters.
Last year, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center identified 170 reports of such cases, an increase of 45% compared to 2019-2020.
In Montreal City Police Department, 24 cases of rental fraud have been identified since the beginning of the year.
These fraud techniques are not new, recalls Maxime Roy-Allard, spokesperson for the Regroupement des Committees that comprise Québec’s charities and tenants.
“Of course, when there is a housing shortage and scarcity, we see more shady schemes appear because there are more desperate people looking at the end,” he says.
“There are people who are taking advantage of the situation and exploiting the circumstances to make offers that do not exist online,” adds Véronique Laflamme, spokeswoman for the Popular Action Front in Urban Reorganization (FRAPRU).
Remember that according to the Civil Code of Quebec, the landlord cannot ask for any amount other than rent, such as a deposit. However, an amount can be paid voluntarily.
How do you prevent fraud?
- Verify the identity of the owner
- Do not send money before visiting the property
- Ensure that the photos posted on the Internet are correct
- Consult the neighborhood
Source: Quebec Housing Committees and Tenant Associations Group