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rental scam toronto

People keep trying to sell or rent Toronto homes they don't even own

Whether you're looking to rent or own a home in Toronto, sky-high housing costs are an unavoidable reality of life in the economic heart of Canada.

So when you see a deal that's too good to be true, trust your gut. It could be a scam.

Just days after Toronto Police sought the public's assistance in locating the culprits behind a mortgage fraud scam, cops are seeking yet another fraudster accused of advertising other peoples' apartments for rent.

The Toronto Police Service reports that "between July and November, 2022, a man advertised apartments for rent online," the catch being that "he was not authorized to show or rent out the apartments."

The man is alleged to have defrauded multiple people after collecting deposits and rent money for apartments he had no authority to rent out.

Thirty-six-year-old Christopher Lancop (who also goes by the name of Christian John Merner) is wanted for 14 counts of Fraud Under $5,000, and 14 counts of Property Obtained by Crime.

He is described as 5'10", 170lbs, with blonde hair and blue eyes, and police have released a photo to assist in tips.

Police also state that there could be more victims out there.

If this all sounds familiar, these types of scams have become increasingly common in Toronto, where the December 2022 average monthly rent soared to $2,532 for a one-bedroom and $3,347 for a two-bedroom.

These decreasingly attainable housing prices foster desperation among renters and homebuyers and create the perfect conditions for rental and home sale scams to proliferate.

In one recent case, purchasers even moved into a home they were conned into buying. Just not by the actual owners, who only discovered the new occupants months after the fraudulent sale.

Rental website warned last year that "opportunistic scammers are more prevalent now than ever, costing Canadian renters 12.3 million dollars through merchandise scams—which include rental scams—in 2021, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre."

There has been a massive increase in these types of fraud cases since 2020, and though the lockdowns that were a factor in the uptick are now in the history books, the scamming continues.

And these scams are happening everywhere in Toronto, including one of its most infamous addresses, 12 York Street, better known to the masses as Ice Condos.

Even cottage-goers far removed from the big city's criminal underworld fall prey to these scams.

The takeaway here is to always closely check the paperwork and do your due diligence, as that too-good-to-be-true deal very well could hint at fraud.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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