Ottawa, Ont., resident Kit Pullen woke up Wednesday morning perplexed to find “a huge pile of junk”, that turned out to be the contents of somebody’s home. A neighbour later told Pullen that he saw a U-Haul van in his driveway at 3 a.m. depositing the furniture.
Luckily for Pullen, as a retiree he didn’t have a job to head to on Wednesday morning, because the furniture was blocking his garage. At the time the mess was discovered, Pullen didn’t know where it came from or what to do with it.
Later in the day the mystery was solved and it didn’t have a happy ending.
It turns out that the furniture belonged to Nikki Wilson of Napanee, Ont., who had responded to an online ad on Kijiji that advertised Pullen’s home as a rental property.
(Kit Pullen stands in front of the furniture left behind by someone in a moving truck overnight on his driveway. Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Except that Pullen didn’t post that ad, nor was he planning on renting out his house, as he and his wife are still living in it.
Wilson had hired mover Richard Lalonde to drop her stuff off at what she thought was her rental property. When she realized she’d been scammed, she contacted Lalonde to tell him so. Lalonde was nice enough to pick her belongings up from Pullen’s driveway and return them to her in Napanee.
Unfortunately, these types of scams are nothing new.
See: Airbnb, puppies, and CRA scams targeting Canadians
The problem of online rental scams isn’t limited to Kijiji. In British Columbia, one property manager claimed last year that almost 15 per cent of rentals offered on Craigslist are actually scams.
Sometimes these scams target specific groups. The Better Business Bureau warned students to watch out for these types of scams last year.
The BBB issued tips on how to avoid online rental scams, which included things like: don’t use cash to secure a rental, never wire money to secure a rental, try to meet the landlord, be wary of ads or landlords who claim to be out of the country, and more.
Using these tips, the next time you’re movin’ on out you can be assured you won’t lose money.