Two people have been arrested in connection to a series of sophisticated rental frauds that have cost at least 10 victims thousands of dollars.
Victoria police are now looking for others impacted.
“The frauds involve online ads for rental suites, are primarily conducted by email and text, often take place over weeks to months and unusually involve suspects brazenly meeting with victims, calling victims’ references and handing over fraudulent key fobs,” the Victoria Police Department said.
One victim told police they responded to a Craiglist ad in March before meeting the alleged fraudster, who claimed to be the owner of a suite in a multi-unit residential building on Quadra Street. The fraudster even called the victim’s references before what was believed to be a valid lease was signed. The fake owner took the victim’s funds for the first month’s rent before delaying their move-in date by a month, saying the unit had flood damage.
When the victim eventually went to the building, they found their key fob didn’t work and the suite they had been shown was actually a short-term vacation rental that was occupied by another tenant.
Another victim went through a similar process this month before they got suspicious and contacted the property manager of the building the fraudster was trying to rent out. The manager told the victim the suite being advertised by the fraudster was not for rent. The manager then set up a meeting with the suspect, called them on their lies and tried to get the victim’s money back. Both the victim and the property manager contacted police after the funds weren’t returned.
Officers on Sept. 2 located one of the two fraud suspects and arrested him before he was released with a future court date. Officers found evidence of another potential rental fraud during the arrest and said they were able to disrupt that scam.
On Sept. 19, a victim called police after seeing one of the suspects at a Pandora Street business. Officers arrived and arrested the man.
The male suspect was wanted for violating conditions related to a previous series of frauds where he faced 36 different charges. He was transported to VicPD cells and his outstanding warrant was executed before he was released on a series of conditions and with a future court date.
Investigators are concerned there could be additional victims and are looking to connect with anyone who may have met with the suspect. VicPD released a photo of the man, the suspect in at least nine fraud investigations, on Sept 21. He’s described as a 5’8” Caucasian man with dark brown and stubble-length hair.
Anyone with information can contact VicPD at 250-995-7654, ext. 1, or report anonymously to Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
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