The Off-Campus Housing Office would like you to be aware of a scam that may affect landlords and students posting listings on the Internet.
How Does It Work?
You are contacted by telephone or email by "international students or parents", asking to rent your accommodation. You then receive payment in the form of money order, cashier’s cheque, or third party cheque from a business or bank usually in an amount that is much higher than what you requested. Shortly thereafter you are contacted by the student or parent and asked to wire back a portion of the money. This is usually explained as airfare costs or perhaps an accident has taken place and the student will no longer be able to attend. Some landlords and students have sent large amounts through wire transfers back to the suspects.
The landlord/student is subsequently informed by their bank that the money order or cheque is fraudulent. Unfortunately, it can take time for the bank or post office to discover that the money order or cheque is counterfeit. The victim (landlord/student) is usually held financially responsible as they have passed a fraudulent money order or cheque. Since the transactions are carried out by email or cell phone, out of province or country, it is extremely difficult to positively identify the individual posing as the tenant.
The Off-Campus Housing Office recommends that, if you receive a request from a prospective tenant for a refund of a deposit overpayment, you contact the fraud unit of the Toronto Regional Police Services.
If you suspect you have received a fraudulent email, please report this to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.