British Columbia rental scam victim recognizes suspect
Following the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from potential renters, the B.C. Real Estate Council advised agents to muster extreme caution before granting keys to properties being viewed.
The CBC investigation led to the discovery of many more victims, especially a British Colombian woman who said she recognized the suspect from a citizen’s arrest who was the same person that ripped her off as part of a Craiglist scamming scheme.
“I think it’s the same man, the same stature, same magpie hat, straight teeth,” said Sandy Irving.
Having seen the Coal Harbour apartment a few times, Irving admitted that the fake landlord had impersonated a real estate agent and had used photos from a genuine listing. Realizing that she had been scammed, she launched a complaint against the house’s actual agents with the Real Estate Council.
Larry Buttress, deputy executive officer for the Real Estate Council of British Columbia, is worried about the scamming going on, saying that real estate agents “need to be aware that these kinds of fraud are taking place” and should not hesitate in calling the police if they suspect that their designated house is being used as part of a scamming scheme.
Naturally, real estate agents are supposed to attend showings of the properties that they have personally listed. Also, they are meant to ensure that any person that they have signed to show the house is properly licensed before handing them the keys.
In the case of Sandy Irving, the Real Estate Council failed to find a fault with the two agents who had been assigned the properties for sale.
Linda Tran, another victim of the Craiglist scam who had lost $8,000 in acquiring a supposedly perfect Yaletown house, had, with her roommates, made a video of the suspect. Once she discovered she had been duped had asked for another viewing of the condo and arrested the impersonating real estate man until the police arrived.
Watching the video made by Linda Tran and her roommates, Irving felt disturbed by the whole situation saying, “I just find it despicable. I lost $6,000 and I too was without a home and traumatized,” said Irving. She now has a new home in Sechelt, B.C.
Ray Harris, president of the Vancouver Real Estate Board expressed astonishment as to how criminals were able to gain access to vacant properties scheduled for sale.
“We don’t like it when people of that ilk represent us. We really try and do as much as we can to have security. We all have cards that say we’re Realtors. It should have our pictures.”
He admitted how hard it was to detect fake IDs or forgeries.
Formal investigation is still on
The suspect in the video, who was found to have numerous IDs alongside aliases in his wallet, was not charged and was released awaiting a police investigation.
Irving, having told the Vancouver police of her suspicions, believes the same man is the same one who showed her the Coal Harbour condo, with the name Charlie, who was “too polished” and “wanted cash.”
However, Linda Tran acknowledged that he was the same man but had gone by the name of Edward Young, a sales executive with Pacific Luxury Rentals.
In the meantime, the police argue that an investigation of this magnitude is intricate and time-consuming.
“You’re dealing with individuals that are using fake names, fake identities, the paper trails are endless and they often lead to additional crimes,” said Constable Brian Montague.