rental scam toronto

Toronto rental and housing scams are becoming a huge problem

Toronto Police are seeking a suspect in yet another housing scam investigation, just the latest in a string of similar scams where fraudsters rent or even sell homes they do not own.

In the most recent case, police allege that between November 2022 and February 2023, 49-year-old Cem Devrim Turetken listed units on apartment rental sites under multiple aliases and multiple company names.

Police have issued a photo of the accused, and are warning the public of scam listings shared under company names, including Smart Rental Property Management Inc. in Sudbury and GTA Rentals in Toronto.

Police say the accused defrauded multiple victims, and there could be more unreported cases, leaving would-be move-ins in the lurch without a roof over their heads, and out thousands of dollars in first-and-last payments.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Turetken or believes they may have been defrauded by him is urged to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

Police warned the public of an uptick in these scams between 2020 and 2021, and reports of investigations and arrests only seem to have increased in the years since. Rental scams seem to have accelerated during the pandemic, and reports of suspicious rental listings had almost tripled year-over-year in mid-2022.

The scams can be found all over Toronto, and the city's most notorious residential complex, Ice Condos, has been caught up in multiple recent rental scams.

The cases even extend well beyond Toronto into the cottage country region to the north, where reports of cottage rental scams follow the same themes as what is being witnessed in the 416 market.

Toronto Police warn the public to research the property in person before signing any agreements, double-check the address to ensure it isn't being listed elsewhere, and, most importantly, to always leave a paper trail.

"Never pay with cash, wire transfer or hard-to-trace equivalents, such as MoneyGram or Bitcoin, and be aware of 'too good to be true' rent rates," reads a statement from Toronto Police.

Police also warn that you should never offer a rent or security deposit before signing a lease, and offer tips like speaking with the building's property manager, security, or concierge before handing over any funds to a suspicious landlord.

There are even more ambitious fraudsters out there who are outright selling homes they don't own, putting buyers on the hook for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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