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This rental listing scam is on the rise and catching people off guard
TORONTO -- An Ontario man said he was shocked when people kept coming to his house to ask if it was for rent.
"A woman said the house is for rent isn't it? And I said 'No it's not,'" Allan Ballach, who lives in Trenton, Ont., told CTV News Toronto.
Ballach got caught up in a rental listing scam where fraudsters take photos that are already online and create fraudulent ads.
Ballach put his home up for sale this spring and photos of his house were listed on a real estate website. He said scammers created a fake online ad with the photos and said his house was for rent.
In one day, he said four people knocked on his door saying they were there to rent his house.
"One lady said I sent $1,000 to you and I said it definitely didn't come to me," Ballach said.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said the rental listing scam has been around for a while, but that it has been more prevalent during the pandemic.
Jeff Thomson, who works at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, said there have been 610 complaints about the rental listing scam this year.
"We are definitely seeing an uptick in this type of fraud," Thomson said.
Thomson said the rental listing scam can be done with any type of property.
"They basically steal the photos from ads that already exist online and then use the photos to create their fraudulent adds," Thomson said.
In the scam, thieves will say they can’t meet in person and the rent is usually below the market rate. They may ask for the first month’s rent or a security deposit and ask you to wire the funds because they are out of country.
The scammer that created the fake ad in Ballach's case claimed to be a surgeon working in another province.
Ballach has now taken his home off the market and hopes to get the word out about the scam to prevent others from becoming victims.
"I think it's terrible that they are ripping off these people," Ballach said.