VANCOUVER -- It's hard enough looking for an apartment during a pandemic, but some potential renters are encountering another setback – they're discovering some postings on rental websites aren't real.

Allan Ballach, who lives in Trenton, Ont., recently put his house up for sale. But then people started knocking on his door, asking about renting the place. 

"People were coming to the house and taking pictures of the outside," he says.

"One lady said, 'I sent $1,000 to you.' And I said, 'Well it didn't come to me.'"

Fraudsters had taken photos from Ballach's property listing and posted them online, pretending they were for a rental unit. 

"They basically steal the photos from the ads that already exist online and then use the photos to create their fraudulent ads," said Jeff Thomson with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. "We're definitely seeing an uptick in this type of fraud."

Every year, Canadians lose millions to fake rental schemes. The Better Business Bureau says 43 per cent of renters looking for apartments online encounter fake ads, and they often seem convincing. But there are warning signs. 

If the prospective landlord says they're out of the country, need the money up front or will send you keys when you e-transfer them money – watch out. Those are all red flags. 

And just like landlords vet potential tenants, you need to vet potential landlords. You can check land titles for the name of the registered owner of the property, and ask to meet them on site. And if your spidey sense is tingling, trust your gut. Rent that looks too good to be true, probably is. 

With files from CTV News Toronto's Pat Foran