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Watch out for Kijiji rental scam in Toronto: police

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Police say tenants looking to rent an apartment in Toronto are getting caught in a rental scam and losing thousands of dollars.

“The average rent in Toronto is $2,300 and if people are giving first and last month's rent that’s $4,000 to $5,000 they are losing,” said Constable David Hopkinson with the Toronto Police Service.

 Police allege the scam works like this: A person rents out a short-term rental in a building and then posts it on Kijiji as a long-term rental.

When a prospective tenant comes to see the condominium they actually can go in and have a look around because the person has access to it as a short term rental.

The alleged scammer then asks the person for first and last month's rent and hands them the keys to the unit. When the person moves in, the next day when a cleaner comes to clean the unit they are told they have to get out and that’s when they realize they have been scammed.

Toronto Police issued a public safety alert after several reports of the scam happening in a building at 12 York Street in Toronto.

“The woman that is in the picture in our release is a suspect in a number of these scams," said Hopkinson.

Toronto police release an image of a suspect described as a 25-30 year old woman, 5'4", large build, with short black hair and a tattoo on the right side of her neck.

Police say the woman is 25 to 30 years old, 5 foot 4 inches tall, with a large build, short black hair and a tattoo on the right side of her neck.

In a statement to CTV News Kijiji said, “Kijiji is aware of this rental scam in Toronto and has been proactively removing the fake rental ads being published on the site. We take all claims of fraud or deception extremely seriously, and have a dedicated Community Support team and a variety of technologies in place devoted to spotting fraudulent behaviour.”

“The Toronto Police Service has also contacted us to report the fraudulent ads. We are working collaboratively with them and will continue to support their investigational efforts. The well-being of our community is our top priority and Kijiji encourages any victims of fraud or monetary loss to file a report with their local police department.”

When renting an apartment try to make sure the person you're dealing with is the actual owner or representative of the property. Police suggest asking for their identification before handing over any money.

"If you can try to get identification from the person and maybe even take a picture, you have to be very careful,” said Hopkinson.

Also be cautious if someone wants you to pay a deposit in advance and they say they live in another city or country. You can also check with the owner of the building to ask if the unit you’re looking at is available as a long-term rental 

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