Brian Mcgonagle and Lily Burgess have been trying to move to Revelstoke for months. (Submitted)

Brian Mcgonagle and Lily Burgess have been trying to move to Revelstoke for months. (Submitted)

Couple falls victim to Revelstoke rental scam on Kijiji, twice

They lost $2,600 in total

After falling victim to two housing rental scams, a couple new to Revelstoke is still homeless.

The couple, originally from Australia and Ireland, moved to Canada on a two-year working visa. After the two pooled savings, they came to Revelstoke from Ontario for the winter season, securing jobs at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

While still in Ontario, the couple started looking for housing in Revelstoke. The two posted an ad to Kijiji, asking for accommodation.

“That was our first mistake,” said Brian Mcgonagle.

The couple got a response from someone calling themselves Brent Lefrancois, who said he had a property available and provided photos.

Lefrancois told the couple, in an email, he had recently moved to North Carolina as his daughter and her husband died in a car crash and he was now in the U.S. to look after his grandchildren. Lefrancois said he needed someone to “take good care of my property.”

He sent the couple a rental application form and a lease agreement form, asking for a damage deposit and two months’ rent, which totalled $2,100.

“We knew finding housing in Revelstoke was difficult, so we went for it,” said Mcgonagle. The couple e-transferred the money and never heard from the person again.

Realizing they were scammed, the couple called the police.

Yet, Revelstoke RCMP said these cases are difficult to solve, particularly if the fraudster is overseas.

“Once you press send on an e-transfer, it’s gone,” said Sergeant Chris Dobbs.

He said rental scams in Revelstoke are common, particularly because it’s difficult to find housing and renters are desperate.

“It’s ripe for fraudsters.”

READ MORE: B.C. woman has hundreds show up in $500 Craigslist rental scam

Still, on the hunt for a place to live, the couple was contacted by a person referring to himself as Jacques Lafleur.

Now weary, the couple researched B.C. tenancy laws, learning landlords could only ask for half a month’s rent prior to moving in.

“However, this man was far more cunning,” Mcgonagle said.

READ MORE: 3 things to know if you live in a rental in B.C.

The person provided photos of the rental property and sent copies of a driver’s license with his name on it. The couple looked up Lafleur on the Government of Ontario website and he appeared to be real.

“It seemed legit,” Mcgonagle said.

To secure the property, the couple paid a $500 damage deposit. The person promised a virtual tour on Oct. 5 but cancelled due to something “urgent”. He sent a rental agreement and told the couple keys were in the garage.

The person then asked for the first month’s rent. Still hesitant, the couple said they visited a bank to wire the money. However, the bank said the address provided was flagged for fraud.

The couple told the person and they soon stopped responding.

Who is Jacques Lafleur?

With a copy of the driver’s license, Black Press was able to track down Lafleur. However, Lafleur said he is also a victim of fraud.

Approximately five months ago, he also posted on Kijiji looking for accommodation in Kitchener, Ont. for his wife, himself and his mother. A “landlord” asked for IDs from all three, which Lafleur provided, along with $800.

The perspective landlord said he would mail the keys, even providing photos of the trip to the mailbox. He also gave Lafleur a driver’s license, which Lafleur later learned was also stolen.

Eventually, the landlord stopped contacting Lafleur and stole his identity.

“I am so angry,” said Lafleur. He contacted police but was also told little could be done.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Renters keep showing up at B.C. couple’s home after it was listed in online scam

Still homeless

Mcgonagle and his partner still came to Revelstoke and plan to stay for the winter.

“We’re on a once in a lifetime trip. We’re not here to make money, but see what Canada has to offer.”

However, since “Lafleur” had provided an actual address, the couple visited the house to warn the homeowners of the scam.

“It was quite surprising,” said Stephanie Miller.

“It’s concerning that people can just show up at my door with a truckload of stuff, expecting to move in,” she said.

Matt Cherry, a moderator of the Facebook group Revy Rentals, which has over 11,000 members, said rental scams are common. Cherry who also owns multiple houses in Revelstoke, said he even found one of his properties for rent on the Stoke List, a local classifieds website when it wasn’t.

Cherry said one of the reasons he created Revy Rentals was to try and provide a secure rental forum.

In the last several years, Cherry said he has blocked roughly 400 people trying to join the Facebook group as scammers.

“Unfortunately, the scams are getting better and better and providing more information to seem legit.”

Cherry encourages all prospective renters to Google landlords, Facetime (if they are outside Revelstoke) and get a tour of the property before handing over any money.

Revelstoke RCMP suggests finding accommodation through a management company, such as Revelstoke Property Services or a reliable website, such as Airbnb. If possible, always meet the landlord.

“If the accommodation seems too good to be true, don’t do it. It probably isn’t,” said Sergeant Chris Dobbs.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Crime

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Angelique Houlihan gets her COVID-19 vaccine jab last week at the community-wide clinic. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
Vaccine clinic continues this week

Plenty of booking spots available

District of Houston
Council adds flexibility to spending decisions

Singles out road works as potential beneficiary

Filling potholes in Houston
Holes filled on Highway 16

Potholes aren’t restricted to District of Houston streets. Lakes District Maintenance crews… Continue reading

In the past, the pitch-in days saw the community working together to clean-up unlike this year, when they will be encouraged to stay in their own bubbles. (Shiela Pepping photo/Houston Today)
Houston to pitch-in on Apr. 22

The Houston & District Chamber of Commerce’s 60th pitch-in day

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Most Read