Another case of suspected rental fraud, as renters wait on police to seek justice

In a Speakers Corner follow-up story, we hear from another victim of a suspected rental scam as she and others wait patiently for justice. Pat Taney reports.

By Pat Taney

In a Speaker’s Corner follow up, we meet another person caught up in a suspected rental scam, one of many cases Toronto police are currently investigating.

Taffi Egerega has been searching for a new apartment for months.

“The market is so competitive, it’s been tough to find a place in Toronto that’s within my budget.”

Last January, she came across an online ad for a rental at 99 Broadway Avenue with photos showing a sleek condo with a $2,000 monthly price tag.

“So, I went to visit the place and it was very nice. The gentleman who showed me the unit said he was the landlord.”

She says the man told her there was a lot of interest, so she better act soon.

“He had a lease on site, which looked legit, and then said he needed first and last month’s rent.”

Via e-transfer, Egerega sent a total of $4,000.

I just thought I have to secure this place before someone else snatches it.”

According to her lease she was set to move in February 1st and on that day she was packed, ready to go, and then she received a message from the man.

“On the day of the move he sent me an email and a text message, saying he had to cancel the agreement.”

He apologized and she immediately asked him to refund the money she paid upfront.

“He said he would be giving that to me right away, but after waiting several days he never did.”

Egerega then went to police and filed a report, she also did her own investigation and found out the man was never authorized to rent the condo.

“I am not sure how he had access to the unit but I later found out it had already been rented by someone else.”

Egerega began looking into the man, who goes by several different names online.

“I started doing my own research on his different names and the phone number he gave me and I just found out so much,” she said.  “He’s been scamming people for years in various ways, including other victims for rentals too.”

She went back to police to give them the information she found, including the address where she believes he lives. An address on Sherbourne Street, not anywhere near the condo he tried to rent her.

“I just gave them all that information, and I’m still waiting for them to get back to me,” she said. “It seems as though these investigations are taking way too long and police need to be doing a better job at following up or these types of scams will continue.”

Last week, CityNews told you about a Toronto landlord whose tenant is accused of operating a similar scam. For the past several months, he was collecting deposits from several people falsely claiming to be allowed to sublet the landlord’s condo.

“I estimate he has taken somewhere around $25,000 collectively, each person paid him $2,000 apiece for first months rent,” said Aaron Dsouza. “Several men were staying in my condo when I went to inspect it but he took money from several different people that haven’t even lived in this unit yet.”

Multiple police reports have been filed in regards to that case but no arrests have been made.

CityNews reached out to Toronto Police Services, requesting an update on the investigations but Police would only tell us the cases are still open and ongoing.

When we asked how many reports total have been filed involving suspected rental scams, they were unable to provide that information but according to their website these cases are far from being isolated. In fact, in response to the alarming trend, Toronto Police created a video warning tenants on what to look out for when trying to secure a place to live.

Realtor Luke Ng says in this market renters need to be vigilant when seeking apartments. He says its important they get as much information about the landlord before signing a lease and handing over a deposit.

“Ask the person who is showing you the place if they are the owner or an authorised representative of the owner, and maybe even see a piece of their photo ID.”

He says a big warning bell, in any rental transaction, is when a landlord seems too quick to close the deal.

Renters should be prepared to provide your own photo ID, proof of income, credit report, and past landlord references,” he said. “I would be very wary, if someone offers you a lease without at least going through some of these documents or requesting these documents.”

Egerega said that all makes sense in hindsight and as she waits for justice, she’s speaking out to warn others.

“I’ll say the one thing I missed was asking him for an ID,” She said. “I don’t care how uncomfortable it is, for your own safety, just do it.”

She’s also asking anyone else who may have been offered the same unit at 99 Broadway Avenue to contact Toronto Police.

If you have an issue, story or question you’d like us to look into, reach out to us here.

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