Sometimes when you place an ad on Craigslist or Kijiji for a rental property you never know what kind of responses you’ll get. Sometimes you get a simple one line response from a prospective tenant saying:
“When can I see it?”
Other times you’ll get someone’s life story. I received a lovely email from a couple in Saskatchewan that were going to be retiring to the area of my property. They told me about their nephew that would be coming to view the place and how they are looking forward to the change in climate and being near many of their family members who’d also left Saskatchewan for the beauty of BC. And of course, there are the emails that make your scam bells ring.
The first time I received an email like the one I am about to share, I actually responded to it. It didn’t mention anything specific about my property so I was a little suspicious it was a rental ad scam. The element of a foreign visitor made it sound a bit off, yet you could appreciate the challenge of trying to find a place to live from another country. So even though I was pretty sure it was a scam I wasn’t 100% positive. So, I said:
“We will require you to complete a rental application. I can forward one to you if you’d like. We also will require you to provide some references in Canada. If you do not know anybody here then you could provide us with some proof that you’ll be employed or going to school once you arrive in Canada.”
Of course, I never received a response. And since then, I’ve received a similar email for different property ads I’ve placed. Whether it was a furnished 3 bedroom in Burnaby or a single family home in Kelowna it didn’t seem to matter. And then my brother received this email for his basement in Victoria:
My name is David Timi from United Kingdom. I am
interested in your room for rent and i am willing to have it
for my 23yrs Son who just got through with his college in Uk
and just gained admission in Canada..
I am interested in making the bookings of your room for the
duration of a year though the dates is not yet fixed for him
but i will keep you informed as soon as the dates is
confirmed but i am planning to make him come over as soon as
you have the room available.
I will be making advanced payments by check for the first
month starting from the time you have it available so as to
get it booked then i will pay the rest monthly..I am really
okay with the details of your apartment i got from the web
site and its really my taste and i am sure my Son will also
like it. Really just to let you know that as for the payment
i will be paying with a Certified cheque. As for the price
i will want to let you know that am okay with the price so
kindly get back to me if you are willing to let it out to
me so that the payment can be arranged and sent.
If you are okay with me, then you can mail me back and let
us conclude on everything today.
Mr David Timi
My brother sent this on to us because he was pretty sure it was a scam, but like me, he wasn’t sure. I knew for certain it was a scam now … unless David Timi is looking to live in three cities at the same time!!
If you suspect it’s a scam it’s better not to reply at all. But, if the email sounds fishy but possible, you can always ask them to complete a rental application and let them know you’re going to check their credit and their references. You should be doing this for every single rental anyway! Telling someone that you require a rental application to be completed and that you check credit and references often scares away bad tenants as well as the scam artists!