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Fake rental listing in Vancouver highlights threat of scam

(Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)

Renters in Vancouver are being warned about a scam involving AirBnb listings being advertised as available to rent on a longer-term basis.

Photos posted to a local Reddit page on Wednesday morning shows a text message exchange between two strangers. One is a woman who says she went to view a rental listing, realized something was wrong and contacted a person she believed lived there. 

“I found an ad on Craiglist for your loft $2,300 per month,” the woman writes in a text message, explaining she decided to contact the other person after going to the viewing and seeing their phone number on a building sign. “I left, went to my car, found your place on Airbnb and called non emergency police line.”

The text-message exchange that resulted suggests two women are putting on the viewings, and asking people for a cash deposit to secure the place for Dec. 1. One Reddit user commented that they nearly fell for the scam the night prior, but pushed to speak with the owners and see paperwork.

With rising costs, low vacancy rates, and high demands for both short and long-term rentals across British Columbia, the Better Business Bureau says rental scams account for just over three per cent of all scams reported in B.C.

“We suspect the actual number to be much higher, as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that only five per cent of fraud cases end up being reported,” BBB president Simone Lis wrote in an email to CTV News.

She calls Vancouver’s current market “the perfect storm for scammers looking to deceive any potential tenant who’s simply trying to secure a space for themselves in this ever-growing city.”

Data from the national bureau shows the average amount of money Canadians lost in these scams is $1,230—a near 51-per-cent increase from 2021.

The scam typically consists of people listing someone else’s property that they gained access to through a short-term rental. Top Stories

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