Scammer appears to have created fake Kijiji listing that duplicated real online listing, parties say.
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Stu Mills· CBC News· Posted: Oct 04, 2021 4:00 AM ET
David Polk says he lost $4,300 after his family thought they had rented a home over Kijiji. The listing was fake.
An Ottawa couple recently listed their brand new rental property, but before they could rent it out, they found a family living there without their knowledge as a result of a bold and complex scam.
The con, based on a fake listing on Kijiji but with a puzzling twist, not only duped the family out of thousands of dollars in rent, but left the homeowners feeling stunned and violated.
The ordeal began in August, after Anuj and Saloni Mittal purchased a two-storey townhouse on Pastel Way in Ottawa's Barrhaven neighbourhood and listed it for rent.
A few weeks later, on Sept. 13, the couple's MLS agent, Dinesh Sharma, called them early in the morning with some shocking news.
He said a man claiming to be living in the couple's townhouse was complaining that his landlord was trying to change the terms of the lease and asking for more rent.
"Your client is acting up," Sharma recalled the man telling him.
But the Mittals hadn't even signed a tenant at that point. As far as they knew, no one had ever lived in the newly constructed building.
In fact, the "For Rent" sign was still standing on the grass outside their rental property, which is how the man found Sharma's name and number.
The Mittals and their agent quickly drove to Pastel Way to investigate.
Strangers inside home
There they met David Polk, still settling into the townhouse that he and his family had moved into just two days earlier.
Polk explained he had spotted the rental listing on Kijiji and had agreed to inspect the property, sign the lease and pay the first and last month's rent over a series of text messages with the supposed landlord, all without an in-person meeting.
But neither the Mittals nor their MLS agent had ever created a Kijiji ad for the unit.