The Estevan Police Service are cautioning people looking for rental properties online of a scam reported on HelloGoodBuy.

Police say people searching for rentals have fallen victim to unknown culprits claiming to be property owners, by sending a security deposit and rental agreement over email.

"While most people using HelloGoodBuy to buy or sell items have successful experiences, we do receive some reports of malicious user trying to defraud the community," said an EPS release.

Police provided the following tips to avoid being scammed while using HelloGoodBuy.

Keep transactions local and in-person.

  • When buying or selling an item, meet in-person in a public place. If picking up an item at a seller’s house, bring a friend with you.
  • Never send money to a seller before seeing the item. Scammers will often ask for money to be sent to a separate mailing address or email address before meeting in person.
  • Never use a personal, certified, or cashier’s cheque, never wire money to another user, and don’t send an advance Interac e-Transfer, which can’t be reversed.
  • Beware of any seller who’s conducting a transaction from another country or province, or is unwilling to meet face-to-face to complete a transaction. HelloGoodBuy is intended for local use by people living in the same community.

Do your homework.

  • Be suspicious of items that are priced unrealistically low or seem too good to be true.
  • Look for local. Beware of non-local phone number area codes.
  • Don’t trust users who make unusual requests, such as advance payment or sending more than the asking price of an item.
  • A common scam in the Housing for Rent category involves taking a house that is listed by a real estate company and faking it as a “for rent” ad.  Ask to view any rental property before sending a deposit.
  • Common scams in the Pets category involve rare or exotic animals, as well as dog breeds such as English Bulldogs, Yorkies, Maltese, Chihuahuas, and Corgis.

Help keep HelloGoodBuy safe.

We use electronic methods as well as human admins to try to keep the community safe, but rely on our community’s help in identifying suspicious activity.

  • Report any suspicious ad immediately, providing as much detail as you can.
  • Contact police to report any attempted fraud or suspicious activity.
  • Report any cases of fraud to the police.

You can also report any suspicious activity by following this link.

Police also said they received a report of a scam on Sunday that happened via Facebook.

A victim attempted to buy a number of items on a Facebook garage sale site. Once the money was transferred, the seller made no further contact with the victim.

The victim attended the address the seller gave them, but found it belonged to a couple that had nothing to do with selling the items.

"Police remind the public to exercise caution when purchasing items [online]," said the police release. "If the seller has very little information on their profile, likely they are not safe to purchase from. Be cautious and when something doesn’t feel right it likely is not. This matter is still under investigation."