NEWS

Craigslist luxury rental scam suspects identified by Vancouver Police

01/12/2015 11:37 EST | Updated 03/14/2015 05:59 EDT
Vancouver police say they have identified suspects in the city's biggest rental scam to date.

On Friday, CBC News reported on what police are calling a sophisticated con: luxury rentals are posted on Craigslist, then interested applicants are offered a discount on the monthly rate, worth hundreds of dollars in total, to tenants willing to pay a full six months' rent up front.

Vancouver Police say they have zeroed in on several suspects in the scam. At least one suspect has been arrested, but no charges have been laid yet. 

"We do believe that a lot of the higher end rental scams are connected," Sgt. Randy Fincham said.  

"We're working with the Crown to try and develop as big of a case as we can to present to Crown counsel with the hopes the Crown will be able to lay charges against these people.

"Of course, in these cases, we're dealing with large sums of money, fake identifies, multiple bank accounts and multiple apartment buildings." 

​Several people lost money in what appears to be a sophisticated scam that involves impersonating realtors.

Since our investigative report, more victims have contacted the CBC saying they have lost money on units in Coal Harbour, Yaletown and Whistler, B.C.

CBC spoke with the realtor who had listed an unit at the luxury Shaw Tower in downtown Vancouver and he said he does not know how someone gained access to his listing.

The concierge for the building told CBC they did not hand over keys to anyone without proper authorization, but they say the listing agent did not always attend the showings.

That particular listing has since expired and the $3-million dollar condo is now off the market.

Martin Schoenberg, a property manager with Vancouver Luxury Realty, estimates 15 per cent of Craigslist rentals are suspicious.

He said renters should screen landlords as vigorously as landlords screen them, as well as asking for proof of ownership or a city property tax statement.

Watch raw video on tips to avoid rental scams.

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