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CAFC Financial Crime Trend Bulletin: Rental Scams


CAFC Bulletin 2017-2261


This bulletin is created to provide awareness regarding rental scams currently targeting Canadians and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.


Scammers are creating fraudulent classified ads, often online, for rentals available in a preferred location. Ads are usually posted with a below average asking price to ensure a “quick sale.” Interested consumers are provided a rental questionnaire, which asks for personal information including: banking details, contact information, occupation, income
and more.

Scammers portray themselves as property owners currently working overseas. They advise that the rent is offered at a discounted rate to acquire good tenants that will “take care” of the property while they are away on business.

Scammers advise that showings/tours of the property are unavailable however, if the rental does not meet the satisfaction of the potential tenants, a full refund will be processed.  Once an offer is “accepted”, consumers are instructed to send first and last months’ rent (either by a money service business, email money transfer or bank wire) in exchange for the keys, which are promised to be express mailed to the tenants’ current address. Although no keys are ever sent, nor is a rental available by the scammer, victims are provided multiple reasons to send additional funds (security deposit, pay for additional months at a discounted rates). Victims are
eventually made aware of the fraud and ads are quickly deleted and communication with the suspect is terminated.

Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself

  • When searching for rentals, physically attend the address. Schedule a showing and confirm it is available.
  • Request a lease/contract. Review it thoroughly.
  • Complete open source searches on rental addresses to ensure it is not a duplicate post.
  • Do not send funds to strangers.
  • Contact Equifax and Transunion if you have provided sensitive information on applications.
  • Go with your gut. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or report online at

This document is the property of the CAFC. It is loaned to your agency/department in confidence and it is not to be reclassified, copied, reproduced, used or further disseminated, in whole or part, without the consent of the originator. It is not to be used in affidavits, court proceedings or subpoenas or for any other legal or judicial purposes. This caveat is an integral part of this document and must accompany any information extracted from it.