Scammers using Castlegar home for rental fraud

Local realtors say the problem is happening more frequently with their properties

“You have nothing to worry about.”

That’s what the Castlegar News was told by someone trying to rent out a Castlegar property online.

The trouble is, we did have something to worry about — the advertiser doesn’t own the property and isn’t authorized to rent it.

Local realtor Carmen Harris discovered that a home she is selling is being marketed as a rental property and she is concerned that vulnerable residents may fall prey to the fraud.

RELATED: New immigrant falls victim to Nelson rental scam

The property is a mobile home in a park in the middle of Castlegar and the rent price being advertised is low for the area.

The Castlegar News contacted the person who was posing as the property owner to inquire about it.

The scammer said they are working in Dubai and were initially planning to sell the house, but changed their mind.

“Never mind if you see the for sale sign in front of the house,” the scammer wrote in an email.

“My initial plan was to sell the house but it was not successful because the realtor raised the price, which made it difficult for me to sell before leaving the city.”

The scammer sent a rental form asking if we are married, have a pet, have a car, how long we would like to rent it and how soon we could pay.

Ironically, we were also asked: “Have you ever had any police case.”

We were also asked for the usual personal information — phone numbers, addresses, references.

After several more emails, we were told the scammer would be happy to rent the home to us.

We were then advised that we needed to make our deposit payment immediately. We were assured that as soon as the payment was confirmed keys and documents would be sent via a next-day delivery service. They gave us a name and a location in Dubai to send an XPress Money Transfer to.

Castlegar News then told the scammers that the realtor had told us the house was still for sale and asked if they were scamming us.

The reply: “Scam you? the realtor raised the price i told you this in my previous email.”

Recurring problem locally

Harris said other realtors at the Castlegar Re/Max office have experienced similar problems.

Joni Askew at Fair Realty said the problem has been going on for several years.

“It has happened a lot,” said Askew. “Some people from Castlegar have actually sent money to rent a property.”

Askew said it appears that scammers are targeting properties that look empty in real estate listings.

The Competition Bureau of Canada has a list of warning signs to look for when renting a property:

• the monthly rent is lower than other similar places

• you’re asked to leave a deposit without any formal rental agreement or lease in place

• you’re asked to send money to someone outside the country

• when you ask about the apartment, you get an email that sends you to a website asking for personal or financial information

• ads show pictures of the outside of the property only, or pictures that don’t match the actual property or address

Here is the string of email correspondence with the scammers:

Liz Pharzy:

“Thanks for your interest and inquiries about my house. Yes, the house is still available for rent and we are looking for a responsible person/family to occupy and maintain the house now that we are not around. I and Wife just travelled to the United Arab Emirates (Dubai). Where i worked as a lecturer and my wife also worked as a nurse, We will be away for years. That is why I have made up my mind to put up my house for rent to whomever that will take good care of it. However, my initial plan was to sell the house but it was not successful because the Realtor raised the price which made it difficult for me to sell before leaving the city so never mind if you see the for sale sign in front of the house, It has already been taken off the market as for sale so there is no need to contact any Realtor. Below is the address to the house … So you can drive by and see it because we will not be able to show you the house since will are out of town. But will need a good Tenant that will take good care of the house.

Below are some questions I need you to answer so that we can discuss further.

RENT QUESTIONNAIRE

1) YOUR FULL NAME _____________

2) YOUR CURRENT LANDLORD CELL PHONE _____________

3) YOUR FULL ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER ________________

4) ARE YOU MARRIED __________________

5) HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE LIVING IN THE HOUSE __________________

6) DO YOU HAVE A PET _____________________

7) DO YOU HAVE A CAR ________________________

8) OCCUPATION ____________________________

9) HOW LONG LEASE ARE YOU LOOKING FOR _____________________

10) REASON FOR RELOCATION ___________________

11) HAVE YOU EVER HAD ANY POLICE CASE IF YES STATE THE REASON? ____________

12) WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN? ______________

13) WOULD YOU LIKE TO RENT TO OWN IN FUTURE? ____________

14) HOW SOON CAN YOU HAVE THE DEPOSIT PAYMENT SENT TO ME? ___________

I ___________________, Certify that answers given herein are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I authorize investigation of all statements contained in this application for tenant screening as may be necessary for arriving at a tenant decision. I understand that the landlord may terminate any rental agreement entered into for any misrepresentation made above

Looking forward to hearing back from you with all these details so that i can have them in my file in case of issuing your rent payment receipt to you and for contacting you. Your quick response will be highly appreciated so that we can discuss how to get the documents and the keys of my property to you via Express Delivery Services. May GOD bless you and your family.”

Castlegar News:

“Thanks for responding so quickly. I am just moving to Castlegar and have been having a hard time finding a place to rent.

Before I fill out the form I have a few questions.

I have been advised to confirm that you are the owners of the property, can you confirm that for me?

Also, since you are not in the country right now, how will I get my deposit to you and make rent payments in the future?”

Liz Pharzy:

“Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, your questions will be answered after when you fill out the form.”

Castlegar News:

“OK, I understand. I am just a little nervous to send my personal information off to someone I have never met before and before I have seen the inside of the house. But I also really need to find a place soon.”

Liz Pharzy:

You have nothing to worry about.

Castlegar News:

We completed the renter questionaire.

Liz Pharzy:

At this point, we will like to say We are happy to take you as our tenant. We are satisfied with your Application and also believe l can put my trust in you in terms of taking good care of the house as i believe that you know how to take good care of the house. We can also let you stay in the House until the period of time you wish to. We will Schedule a good time, maybe when we are less busy to pay you a visit after you have moved in, to see how the maintenance is or you should be sending us the pictures of the house each month after you have moved in to see how you are maintaining it. However if you are ready to rent the house now then that will not be a problem but i will advise you to provide the payment for refundable security deposit of $500 today so i can hold the house for you pending when you are ready to move in, as soon as the payment is been confirmed, i will send the keys and documents of the house to you via FedEx or DHL next day delivery service to this address (1485 Columbia Ave, Castlegar) So you can have access to view the interior of the house asap. Meanwhile, the package will be addressed to. Mark Kline.

I wish you the best of luck in your Job, from what i saw in your application, you must be a very responsible and hardworking person, may the almighty Lord guide and protect today and forever. AMEN!

Here are the contents in the package that will be sent to you through FedEx or DHL

1) Entrance and the rooms Keys.

2) Paper/Permanent House form (Containing your reference details)

3) The House documented file.

4) Payment Receipt.

5) Signed Lease Agreement Form (sign on both copies and send one back to me)

Please re-confirm your mailing address below:

(1485 Columbia Ave, Castlegar)

I had two tenants who were ready to make 3 months Upfront Payment, But i rejected the offers because they party a lot and smoke indoors, that was the info i got from their current landlord. So please promise me you are going to take good care of my house. Kindly get back to me today so i will give you instructions on how to make the payment. Please note that the deposit is fully refundable, you will love everything about this lovely house.

I await your reply ASAP.

Castlegar News:

“I was told by the realtor that this house is still for sale. Are you really the owners, or are you trying to scam me?”

Liz Pharzy:

Scam you? The realtor raised the price i told you this in my previous email.”



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Glacier Gymnastics big winner in annual grant funding

Columbia Basin Trust doled out $1.4 million in grants to the regional organizations

Procter working to reopen community bakery

The Procter Community Society is fundraising upwards of $100,000 for the project

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

KAST receives $15,000 for inclusive programs at Nelson Tech Club

‘These programs will be a perfect introduction to using technology’

Nelson to send two musicians to provincial Festival of The Arts

Lucas Alexander and Nico Bucher will compete in Chilliwack later this month

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read