A Calgary man with a history of defrauding people looking for a home to rent appears to be at it again.
Patrick Lawrence Miller was convicted of a rental fraud scam in January 2014 that involved more than a dozen victims.
Now, several people say he's at it again. Alaina Parkes posted an ad on Kijiji seeking a pet-friendly rental when she moved from Victoria to Calgary last December.
Miller responded, offering a home in the southwest community of Wildwood.
Miller's girlfriend, Monique Van Dijk is listed as the registered owner of the home at 112 Windermere Road S.W.
Both Van Dijk and Miller were involved in negotiations and showing the home to Parkes and her partner.
"[They were] always for the most part quite charming, quite nice. Monique was very nice, seemed quite intelligent as well," says Parkes.
Miller collected Parkes' $1,500 damage deposit only to tell her on the day she was supposed to move in that unexpected renovations had come up.
Two months later, Parkes still hadn't moved in.
She began browsing Kijiji for other rentals when she says she found more people who claimed they'd made the same deal with Miller.
They'd paid the deposit, only to be told the home was under emergency renovations.
That's when Parkes went back to Miller, demanding her deposit back.
"He basically said he'd have it back to us in two days as long as we didn't go to the police," she says. "So we held off on going to the police until we got our money back."
Parkes says police told her she was not the first person to report Miller.
Court documents show he pleaded guilty to defrauding 13 people earlier this year for offences that occurred in June and July 2011.
Prior to his guilty plea, Miller was released on bail after his girlfriend, Van Dijk, put up her home as a surety.
The Crown prosecutor assigned to the file confirmed the victims told a story very similar to Parkes', involving a damage deposit that, in the cases of the 13 victims, was never returned.
Disabled woman concerned
Sheron Hepburn's sister is on AISH and nearly signed a lease with Miller as well.
A friend placed an ad on Kijiji on behalf of the developmentally disabled woman and her partner, seeking a rental suitable for the couple. Miller responded and offered to show them a home.
The rent was too expensive for her sister, but Hepburn alleges Miller offered to lower it on the condition she pay for three months up front.
A spokesperson for Kijiji Canada confirms Parkes has been in touch with the company in an effort to prevent Miller from contacting others looking to rent a home in Calgary.
Shawn McIntyre says an account sent to Kijiji by Parkes has been blocked. McIntyre encourages people to report potential fraudsters to Kijiji so the company can take measures.
McIntyre said Kijiji has been in touch with Calgary Police and is prepared to cooperate if need be.
Police warn of rental scams
"Rental scams in Calgary are an every day event, especially on Kijiji," said West. "It's something we get complaints on almost weekly."
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