Brian Mcgonagle and Lily Burgess have been trying to move to Revelstoke for months. (Submitted)

Brian Mcgonagle and Lily Burgess have been trying to move to Revelstoke for months. (Submitted)

Couple falls victim to Revelstoke rental scam on Kijiji, twice

They lost $2,600 in total

After falling victim to two housing rental scams, a couple new to Revelstoke is still homeless.

The couple, originally from Australia and Ireland, moved to Canada on a two-year working visa. After the two pooled savings, they came to Revelstoke from Ontario for the winter season, securing jobs at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

While still in Ontario, the couple started looking for housing in Revelstoke. The two posted an ad to Kijiji, asking for accommodation.

“That was our first mistake,” said Brian Mcgonagle.

The couple got a response from someone calling themselves Brent Lefrancois, who said he had a property available and provided photos.

Lefrancois told the couple, in an email, he had recently moved to North Carolina as his daughter and her husband died in a car crash and he was now in the U.S. to look after his grandchildren. Lefrancois said he needed someone to “take good care of my property.”

He sent the couple a rental application form and a lease agreement form, asking for a damage deposit and two months’ rent, which totalled $2,100.

“We knew finding housing in Revelstoke was difficult, so we went for it,” said Mcgonagle. The couple e-transferred the money and never heard from the person again.

Realizing they were scammed, the couple called the police.

Yet, Revelstoke RCMP said these cases are difficult to solve, particularly if the fraudster is overseas.

“Once you press send on an e-transfer, it’s gone,” said Sergeant Chris Dobbs.

He said rental scams in Revelstoke are common, particularly because it’s difficult to find housing and renters are desperate.

“It’s ripe for fraudsters.”

READ MORE: B.C. woman has hundreds show up in $500 Craigslist rental scam

Still, on the hunt for a place to live, the couple was contacted by a person referring to himself as Jacques Lafleur.

Now weary, the couple researched B.C. tenancy laws, learning landlords could only ask for half a month’s rent prior to moving in.

“However, this man was far more cunning,” Mcgonagle said.

READ MORE: 3 things to know if you live in a rental in B.C.

The person provided photos of the rental property and sent copies of a driver’s license with his name on it. The couple looked up Lafleur on the Government of Ontario website and he appeared to be real.

“It seemed legit,” Mcgonagle said.

To secure the property, the couple paid a $500 damage deposit. The person promised a virtual tour on Oct. 5 but cancelled due to something “urgent”. He sent a rental agreement and told the couple keys were in the garage.

The person then asked for the first month’s rent. Still hesitant, the couple said they visited a bank to wire the money. However, the bank said the address provided was flagged for fraud.

The couple told the person and they soon stopped responding.

Who is Jacques Lafleur?

With a copy of the driver’s license, Black Press was able to track down Lafleur. However, Lafleur said he is also a victim of fraud.

Approximately five months ago, he also posted on Kijiji looking for accommodation in Kitchener, Ont. for his wife, himself and his mother. A “landlord” asked for IDs from all three, which Lafleur provided, along with $800.

The perspective landlord said he would mail the keys, even providing photos of the trip to the mailbox. He also gave Lafleur a driver’s license, which Lafleur later learned was also stolen.

Eventually, the landlord stopped contacting Lafleur and stole his identity.

“I am so angry,” said Lafleur. He contacted police but was also told little could be done.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Renters keep showing up at B.C. couple’s home after it was listed in online scam

Still homeless

Mcgonagle and his partner still came to Revelstoke and plan to stay for the winter.

“We’re on a once in a lifetime trip. We’re not here to make money, but see what Canada has to offer.”

However, since “Lafleur” had provided an actual address, the couple visited the house to warn the homeowners of the scam.

“It was quite surprising,” said Stephanie Miller.

“It’s concerning that people can just show up at my door with a truckload of stuff, expecting to move in,” she said.

Matt Cherry, a moderator of the Facebook group Revy Rentals, which has over 11,000 members, said rental scams are common. Cherry who also owns multiple houses in Revelstoke, said he even found one of his properties for rent on the Stoke List, a local classifieds website when it wasn’t.

Cherry said one of the reasons he created Revy Rentals was to try and provide a secure rental forum.

In the last several years, Cherry said he has blocked roughly 400 people trying to join the Facebook group as scammers.

“Unfortunately, the scams are getting better and better and providing more information to seem legit.”

Cherry encourages all prospective renters to Google landlords, Facetime (if they are outside Revelstoke) and get a tour of the property before handing over any money.

Revelstoke RCMP suggests finding accommodation through a management company, such as Revelstoke Property Services or a reliable website, such as Airbnb. If possible, always meet the landlord.

“If the accommodation seems too good to be true, don’t do it. It probably isn’t,” said Sergeant Chris Dobbs.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

crime

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

HarbourCats players celebrate winning the North Division Championship Series in 2019. (Christian J. Stewart/File Photo)
Victoria HarbourCats locked out of team Facebook page

Management hires legal team to solve issue

Thousands filled Centennial Square in June for the peace rally for Black lives, sparked by outrage over the death of George Floyd in the U.S. (Black Press Media file photo)
Survey seeks input on racism in Greater Victoria

Confidential answers to inform work with immigrants and marginalized people

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

International Bat Week runs from Oct. 24 to 31. (Photo: Cory Olson)
Time to get batty for International Bat Week

International Bat Week runs from Oct. 24 to 31

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

Most Read