Ontario police warn of rental scam for cottages near Toronto
Looking forward to a long weekend up north at the cottage? Unless you own one, have a friend with one, or you've rented that particular property before, you might want to double check your reservation.
Ontario Provincial Police have issued a warning to members of the public ahead of Labour Day about an "online cottage rental scam currently under investigation."
"The scam is set up by suspects posting an advertisement of a cottage for rent on the internet, which includes pictures of the cottage and rental information. The advertisement appears legitimate," reads an OPP news release.
"The suspects have then asked victims to send money via e-transfer or direct deposit to a bank account."
Cottage rental tip #1: Don't send thousands of dollars to some stranger you just met on Kijiji.
🚨SCAM ALERT – Online #cottage rental scam asks victims to send money via e-transfer or direct deposit, but upon arrival to the rental, they find the owner unaware of the transaction. Never send or wire money to sellers. Be cautious and deal directly with owner. #HvilOPP ^gp pic.twitter.com/HIwinKMxEo— OPP Central Region (@OPP_CR) September 2, 2020
"The victims attend the cottage for their vacation to find the actual owner of the cottage unaware of the transaction," continues the release.
"The sad reality is that in many cases once the money is paid out it is very hard to get back if at all. Please be careful and don't let this happen to you."
Police say that if you do find a cottage you'd like to rent online, you should go view the property in person, with a friend, while the owner is present prior to putting down a deposit.
"Anyone renting a cottage should be very cautious and only deal directly with the owner of a cottage or a reputable business that specializes in seasonal cottage renting," advise the OPP.
"The owner/business should be searched on the internet to find reviews from past customers and legitimacy. (ex: Google the sellers name, address, or Canada 411 to find additional information)."
If you've fallen victim to a scam, you should contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to report it.
"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is," warn police in what might be the most universally-appliable piece of advice in existence. "Trust your instincts."
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