Rental scams await Olympic visitors

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Houses up for sale often used in bogus listings

Damian Inwood

The Better Business Bureau is warning renters to watch out for online Olympic rental scams — after a U.S. group of sports fans was almost bilked out of $2,000.

“Online classifieds like Craigslist have made it easier for people to find things like home rentals, but the listings are not vetted and [are] prone to scams,” said Lynda Pasacreta, the bureau’s president.

“People from across the world want to come to Vancouver-Whistler for the Olympics and, with a short supply of accommodation, it is a recipe for disaster.”

According to the bureau, phony ads for rental properties across the province are cropping up, aimed specifically at stealing money from unsuspecting renters.

One RCMP report said that the U.S. group had tried to rent a Whistler property and was asked to send a $2,000 deposit via wire transfer to secure the property.

The bureau said that Western Union halted the transaction because of a problem with the information provided by the bogus landlord.

The scam victims were told they would receive the keys to the rental home after wiring the deposit.

When the victims asked if they could check out the property first, the landlords claimed that they were out of the country and could not show the house.

The bureau said homeowners are sometimes shocked when they answer a knock on the door, only to find people standing there who are planning to move into their “new rental home.”

Often the real homeowners have had their house up for sale and scammers stole the photos for a bogus listing, the bureau said.

It recommended people use the official Olympic accommodation website at

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