Woman scammed by “landlord” even when she proceeded with caution

Police warn never to give money to people you haven't met in person

Aya Abdulhadi looks over papers that were signed by both her and the "landlord".
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By Lauren Gargiulo

Aya Abdulhadi took the correct steps to protect herself mid rental agreement, according to police recommendations. Yet despite going “by the book,” Abdulhadi said she was still scammed with little hope of a full refund.

Vancouver police media spokesperson, Constable Tania Visintin said in recent years Canada and Vancouver have been seeing more rental scams because the internet has become the primary source of apartment hunting.

A part-time instructor at the Native Education College, Abdulhadi said she found a downtown Vancouver apartment on a social media site, met with a woman who identified herself as the landlord and who showed her the unit. Abdulhadi paid upfront and signed a B.C. rental agreement.

Shortly after, the “landlord” ghosted with the money — without giving Abdulhadi a key or access to any apartment.

According to Visintin, there are ways to avoid these kinds of scams.

“Don’t send money to anyone you haven’t met in person,” said Visintin, who advised getting as much information as possible on the person taking your money, and to call 911 if needed. “Once that 911 file number is open, police will activate an investigation.”

Yet the London, Ont. native said because she “willingly gave over cash,” there was nothing the police could do, despite the precautions Abdulhadi said she had taken.

Visintin said she couldn’t comment on Abdulhadi’s case because it was an open investigation.

Abdulhadi said while looking for monthly accommodations, she found an apartment on Facebook Marketplace. She said after viewing the suite at 1001 Richards Street with the “landlord,” she handed over $1,500 in cash and e-transfers over a couple of days. She even got receipts, she said.

Abdulhadi said she asked the “landlord” for a photo ID and received a photo of her B.C. ID card.

The Voice called the “landlord” twice with contact information supplied by Abdulhadi but the number had since been disconnected.

Abdulhadi said she met the “landlord” three times and was in constant communication via texts and phone calls, yet she said after the cash was handed over, communication went silent.

“That’s $1,500 from someone who just graduated, just started work,” Abdulhadi said.

Increased apartment rental scams 

Director of Operations at LandlordBC Hunter Boucher said there has been an increase in apartment rental scams.

“It’s something we’re hearing more about,” Boucher said, “[But] generally, the scammer doesn’t meet the potential renter in person.”

LandlordBC provides legislation clarification and advice to owners and managers of rental housing in B.C.

Boucher said landlords who rent out apartments don’t have much control over what their tenants do with it.

“[The landlords] can cooperate with the police and end the tenancy agreement but past that, there isn’t anything they can do,” Boucher said.

“I went by the book,” Abdulhadi said, “I always thought [people who get scammed] weren’t doing the right thing,”

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