Delta police are warning citizens about an apartment scam that is targeting renters in the Lower Mainland.
On October 17, a Delta man responded to a Craigslist ad about a Tsawwassen apartment that was allegedly owned by a couple who were offering it at a highly competitive rate.
The man, who hadn’t seen the apartment in person, began an email correspondence with the alleged owners. They informed him that if he wanted to secure the apartment, he needed to place a $1,300 deposit through their Airbnb account. They also told him that if he didn’t like the apartment after seeing it, he would receive his deposit back.
He then received an email that appeared to be from Airbnb.
Delta Police spokeperson Cris Leykauf explained in a news release that the man noticed that the Airbnb header at the top of the email didn’t seem quite right and he also noticed spelling mistakes.
When he conveyed his concerns to the alleged apartment owners, he did not receive a reply.
Consequently, the man contacted the district community police office in Ladner.
Police confirmed his suspicions and were able to determine that the deposit would have gone into a Western Union account located overseas, not to Airbnb.
Although this man avoided the scam, police have since learned that there may have been another victim who lost $1,300.
“While we understand the rental market can be very tough, police recommend that renters meet with the owners or property managers on-site to have a look at a suite before handing over any deposit money,” Leykauf stated in the news release.
Leykauf added that renters should never provide ID pictures to anyone they haven’t met with in person, as it can potentially be used for identity theft or used to perpetuate the scam.