Number of victims grows in alleged rental scam case
A man at the centre of an alleged rental fraud scheme has been released on bail while Toronto police say the number of victims stepping forward jumped from 25 to 42 in one day.
The accused appeared in court Friday, charged with four counts of fraud under $5,000. Police made his Aug. 5 arrest public on Wednesday.
Police say rental units were listed in the classified ad sections of Craigslist and Kijiji and were shown to potential renters. They allege he got them to sign bogus lease agreements and collected the first and last month's rent.
Melissa Martinoh was scheduled to move out of her current cramped, one-bedroom apartment and into one of the units in two weeks.
"This was supposed to be my fresh start," she said of the move.
Martinoh said she paid about $2,300 in rent for a condominium suite at 100 Harrison Garden Blvd. She found out from the building's concierge that other people were scheduled to move into the suite on Sept. 1.
"I was shocked. I was beside myself. I was in tears," she said.
Martino described the man she met as being very professional in both his dress and his communications.
Since she had to give up her current apartment, Martino is planning on staying with a friend and shipping her furniture for storage at her parents' home in Leamington, which is about a four-hour drive southwest of Toronto.
"It's just a setback -- an unfortunate setback," she said.
Besides the Harrison Boulevard building, police allege fraud may have taken place in connection with units at four other buildings:
- 4968 Yonge St.
- 215 Fort York Blvd.
- 2121 Lake Shore Blvd.
- 78 Lee Centre Dr.
Police told CTV Toronto that the rents being charged for the units varied between $800 and $2,000 per month.
Toronto police spokesperson Const. Tony Vella said police believe there may yet be more potential victims.
"We believe there could be victims for Sept. 1, as well as Oct. 1," he said.
Vella also said the accused owned two of the units.
Anyone with information in connection with the investigation is asked to call 416-808-3206 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).
Dale Delano Lyn, 36, is facing strict bail conditions. The Toronto man must live with his mother, the judge ordered.
He did not enter a plea at Friday's bail hearing and left court without speaking to reporters.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Michelle Dube