Housing crisis: tenants cheated by unscrupulous fraudsters

Housing crisis: tenants cheated by unscrupulous fraudsters


Quebecers denounce unscrupulous fraudsters who take advantage of the housing crisis to steal money from vulnerable tenants desperate to find a roof before the 1stst July. 

“I was discouraged to find a place for 6 months. I took the bait. Half of the ads I look at now on Facebook Marketplace are scammers. It's horrible,” angrily says Robin Lefrançois.

Robin Lefrançois, who was looking for housing in Laval, lost $900 because of an online scam.

This Laval resident thought he had found the rare pearl on an online classifieds site. An Ontario woman named Angela Ménard offered him accommodation next to his mother's where he could move in with his cats. 

  • Listen to Felix Séguin on Yasmine's microphone Abdefadel on QUB radio:

Disappeared with the deposit 

Only problem, this lady asked for a deposit of $900 to ensure that the man would show up for the visit of the housing in Laval. < /p>

“We were chatting on Facebook. They were real humans writing. I sent the money, without giving the secret response to the Interac transfer. They were able to cash out the $900 without the response. The scam is well organized,” warns Mr. Lefrançois.  

He confides that he now only has two weeks to find accommodation before July 1. 

Le Journal has easily found a dozen tenants like M .Lefrançois, from all over Quebec, who have been scammed this month.

Visually impaired girl 

This is also the case for Jennyfer Laforge, a single mother of three young children in Beauce. She is constantly looking for a house that will be suitable for her six-year-old daughter, who is visually impaired and has Moebius syndrome, which is characterized by facial paralysis. 

“The house to rent was perfect for us and located in Beauce. The supposed owner told me he lived in Montreal and was asking for the first month's rent of $1,200. It was to be sure that I was not going to let him down, ”says Ms. Laforge. 

The mother therefore agreed to transfer the deposit to her. Later, she realized that the house was not for rent, but for sale by a real estate agent. The announcement on Facebook Marketplace was therefore false. Jennyfer Laforge realized at that moment that $1,200 had just been stolen from her. 

“The police and the bank tell me that they can’t do anything. I am discouraged. It's annoying because it's money you never see again. I am a single parent. With inflation and the price of gas too, everything costs more. I didn't need that. My dream of having this house has shattered,” she laments.  

Fraud for 10 years

Stéphanie Séguin and her young daughter were also defrauded of $800 by giving a deposit for an apartment in Gatineau.

Stéphanie Séguin also lost $800 by giving a deposit for a dwelling that was located in Gatineau. The fraudster used the same scheme with her. 

“I tried to confront him but was told, 'Good luck finding myself, I've been doing this for 10 years. […] When I found out that I had been defrauded, I cried. It was all my savings. Luckily my family helped me afterwards,” explains Ms. Séguin, mother of a 10-year-old girl.

♦ Remember that according to the Administrative Housing Tribunal, a landlord cannot demand payment exceeding one month's rent or require additional sums as a security deposit or other, for example, to ensure the delivery of the keys. 

Schemes of tenant scammers       

  • A landlord is abroad at the time of the rental. He therefore requests that a sum of money be paid to him by electronic transfer as a security deposit.   
  • A landlord who does not want to move for nothing , he asks for a deposit by electronic transfer before showing the premises.    
  • On average, fraudsters demand from their victims deposits of one or two months' rent, amounting to $500 to $1,200, depending on the apartments.    < /li>
  • Regardless of the pretext, an amount of money is always required.       

Source: Montreal Police Department

How to detect the scam?        

  • The address of an accommodation for rent should be indicated in the ad.   
  • By searching the internet for the address of the accommodation for rent, it is possible to see if Internet users have been victims of fraud.     
  • Enter the address of the building in Google Maps and compare certain architectural elements.     
  • A landlord should be reachable by phone, not just email.    
  • Visit the apartment before signing the lease.    
  • If an offer seems too good to be true, it's probably a fraud .      

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