Cottage country may feel like a utopia, but unfortunately, it is often susceptible to the same pitfalls that affect the rest of the world. These can include theft, natural disaster, and, as some vacationers recently learned, fraud. This month, the RCMP charged eight people, including three Windsor residents, for renting out cottages that weren’t in fact theirs.
The negotiations around the cottage rentals occurred online. The would-be renters saw the rental properties advertised on classified websites and paid to for them through email money transfers. The only problem? The people they transferred the money to actually had no connection to the cottages whatsoever. When the renters arrived at the cottages to begin their vacations, they discovered that no one was expecting them, and had to scramble to find alternate accommodations
About 75 people fell for the scheme, losing a total of over $68,000. The RCMP spent a year investigating the case and traced the scams back to eight people. The fraudsters ranged in age from 21 to 53, and came from various places around Canada, including Ontario, Alberta, and B.C. They were charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of proceeds of crime.
Cottage renters are encouraged to be careful when setting up rentals over the internet. They can protect themselves by using a heavily vetted site like homeaway.com, or meeting renters in person. It’s unadvisable to send money through email transfers to people you don’t know.
If you’ve experienced fraud, you can call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit them online.
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