04/25/2012 09:15 EDT | Updated 06/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Police Warn Of Toronto Rental Scams Online

Police in Toronto are warning the public about a new online scam that targets those looking to rent property.

Police say fake ads are being created by people who use photos from homes that are listed on real estate sites, such as MLS, then try to pass them off as rental properties.

Nic Tustin had been looking to rent a house for months when he came across an appealing ad online.

"It looked fine, it was an accurate description, and it really was the price — it just seemed a little too low," Tustin said.

After a few email exchanges, he learned the landlord could not show him around the house, located on a residential street in Toronto's Riverdale neighbourhood, because the man lived in New Jersey.

The home was never actually available for rent, but was actually listed as a property for sale in March.

The home's owner, Carolyn Berezowsky, says she has since received a number of phone calls regarding her home, which she and her husband had actually sold weeks ago.

"I frankly am a little bit nervous. Someone is trying to impersonate my husband, they know my address, they know a lot about my home. It made me feel pretty uncomfortable," she said.

Tustin said luckily, he did not send the fake landlord the deposit he had asked for — a red flag for such fraudulent ads.

Police are urging people to do their research before sending money to anyone online, and to think twice before giving out any personal information.

"People are losing money. It's common in the city of Toronto because rental properties are hard to find," said Det. Gail Regan of the financial crimes unit.

The RCMP contacted the Berezowsky family on Wednesday. They are looking for more information about this scam and others like it.