Regional police warn online scams ‘all over the place’

By Casey Taylor

Local police are out with yet another reminder to always be mindful of potential scams when buying or selling anything online.

The latest warning follows charges earlier this week stemming from a rental scam which saw nearly 40 people bilked of tens of thousands of dollars.

In that instance, police say would-be renters were showing up at homes with signed rental agreements and having already e-transferred a down payment to find out their new home already belonged to someone else.

“Thirty-six victims were identified, each victim had a range of financial loss from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars,” said Deputy Police Chief Shirley Hilton. “I think at this stage we're at probably a total financial loss of over $30,000.”

Waterloo Regional Police say the investigation is still ongoing and there may be more victims out there. Equally important though, police also warn there are also many more fraudsters looking to separate you from your hard-earned money.

“Unfortunately, as we know, online scams are occurring all over the place,” Hilton said. “If there's an opportunity, it appears people will take it to defraud somebody.”

The warning follows a similar one late last month in which local police warned of the rising number of scams involving cryptocurrency and, not long before that, warnings about scams targeting local seniors.

“So the best advice that could be given is to certainly be wary of anything that's too good to be true but there's [also] no shame in asking for references in terms of who might be offering something for sale,” said Hilton, suggesting people dig a bit deeper, especially when it comes to bigger-ticket items like property rentals.

“Do a bit of research on the property itself to see if there has been a history of it being rented because there might be a history where it has never been a rental to begin with or is it a commercial property, et cetera.”

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