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Another potential rental scam in Sidney

Deleted Craigslist post seeks renters for home already for sale
This home, listed for sale by Macdonald Realty, was also advertised as for-rent by someone on Craigslist. (Online MLS listing)

Hugo Wong/News staff

Another potential Craigslist rental scam has emerged, this time in Sidney.

Richard Fisher, a Sidney resident who is looking for a new home, responded to a post advertising a home for rent on Malaview Avenue, but soon discovered the home was listed for sale by Macdonald Realty.

The Craigslist ad has since been taken down, but a copy of the text provided to the Peninsula News Review showed that someone claiming to live in Utah was looking to rent the house for $1,000 per month with a $500 security deposit. They asked Fisher not to contact any real estate agents and to disregard any signage, claiming they had changed their mind and was looking to rent their property, not sell it. The reply asked for a photo of Fisher for identification purposes and wrote they would follow up with a rental application form.

Chace Whitson, the realtor responsible for the actual listing, says the homeowners are not looking to rent out the property.

“It has nothing to do with me. I’m the listing agent for the property but I guess there’s some scam going on.”

Since learning about the posting, Whitson said he has told the homeowners about the potential scam via text, but they have not spoken in person about it.

“It wouldn’t be them trying to rent it that’s for sure.”

Whitson said he has received two complaints about the Craigslist ad, but was not able to view it before it was flagged for removal. He added he has not been in this situation before, but there was at least one similar incident in North Saanich in March.

Believing it to be a scam, Fisher stopped emailing the Craigslist poster.

“Nothing’s happened since then,” said Fisher, but he added he wants to warn people about suspicious listings.

After similar incidents, police recommend dealing with landlords directly and in-person, inspecting the rental property and ensuring the person is in fact the owner or employed by a property management firm. In addition, paying rent or damage deposits by cheque is safer than by Western Union or other wire transfer because cheque payments can be stopped if deemed suspicious.

Any suspicious postings can be reported to the non-emergency police line. For more tips on how to protect yourself, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has a section dedicated to rental scams.