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Police issue warning as Ontario cottage rental scheme resurfaces
Published August 24, 2021 8:59 a.m. EST STUDBURY -
Provincial police in Bracebridge say several complaints have been received by people being victimized by online cottage rental scams.
"Scammers are utilizing common marketplace sites such as KIJIJI to advertise cottages for rent in Muskoka and display attractive photos and provide legitimate addresses. The scammer further provides a rental agreement and money is exchanged," police said in a news release Tuesday morning. "Unfortunately, when the renter arrives to check-in at the cottage they believe they have rented, it is not a rental at all. This leaves the renter displaced and being forced to turn around and return home and is aggravating to the homeowner as they are unsettled by the random arrival of strangers on their doorstep."
Kijiji, an online classified advertising website offers some tips to help avoid vacation rental scams:
Be cautious if the price seems too good to be true compared to similar places in the area
Search the address online and look at the 'Street View' of the property to compare with the ad
Ask to see proof of ownership
Ask for additional photos or to do a video chat from the property
Avoid using cash transfers without fraud protection such as Money Gram or Western Union and instead, opt to pay via credit card
"Western Union will not send an invoice via email. Do not send funds or click any link from a supposed Western Union invoice," Kijiji said on its website.
If you believe you have been scammed, make sure to report it to police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.