A scam targetting travellers and upsetting homeowners has hit Cottage Country.
Constable Samantha Bigley with the Bracebridge OPP warns that if you find a cottage for rent on Kijiji – or another similar website or app – for cheap, it’s probably too good to be true. “Scammers are utilizing common marketplace sites such as Kijiji to advertise cottages for rent in Muskoka and display attractive photos and provide legitimate addresses,” she explains. “The scammer further provides a rental agreement and money is exchanged.”
The problem is when the renter arrives at what they believe to be their place to stay for the next few days, they find a homeowner frustrated that strangers are on his or her property. “People are travelling with their families to what they believe is a cottage they’ve rented only to find its occupied or not even a rental,” Bigley says.
“We have had reports of this scam in years past,” Bigley tells the MyHaliburtonNow.com newsroom. In the past year, the restrictions placed on short-term rentals have given the public a break from the scam. “Now that the restrictions are eased, there has been a resurgence,” she says, adding scammers will take any opportunity they can to take money from people. With there now being a high demand for short-term rentals, scammers are trying to capitalize. “It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding something that looks like a great deal,” Bigley says.
“Potential renters are encouraged to be diligent about the properties that they are exploring online and take extra steps to ensure that the rental is legitimate,” Bigley suggests.