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

From left to right: Don Smith 1st Vice President, Mayor Aaron Stone, Legion President Darlene Paulson, And Sgt at Arms Greg Paulson. (Submitted photo)
Legion announces changes to Poppy Campaign and Remembrance Day service

There will be no public Remembrance Day service this year

Mary Fox’s new book My Life as a Potter is available at bookstores nationwide. (Cole Schisler photo)
Mary Fox book: My Life as a Potter raises funds for Mary Fox Legacy Project

My Life as a Potter is available now at bookstores nationwide

BC Liberal candidate Duck Paterson on the campaign trail. (Submitted photo)
BC Liberal candidate Duck Paterson clarifies position on climate change

Paterson calls human activity a ‘contributing’ factor and says climate change must be addressed

Property on the Trans Canada Highway beside the Country Maples Campground has been sold and will become a modular home park. (Photo submitted)
Development, business transactions significant for Chemainus

Two highway properties and Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro sold

Chris Istace campaigning in Crofton. (Photo submitted)
Green Party’s Istace apologizes for remark about First Nations gaming grants being a ‘handout’

Candidate determined to do better in thinking and communicating matters of reconciliation

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Conservation officers hope the public can provide information about who shot and left a bull and cow Roosevelt elk near Spruston Road, south of Nanaimo. (Photo: Facebook)
Pair of Roosevelt elk shot and left in woods south of Nanaimo

Conservation officers hope public can help find who killed the animals near Spruston Road

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read