Don’t be fooled by fake online listings, Cambridge real estate agent warns
To Ana Holfeuer, it seemed just about pefect.
She came across a listing on the online classified ad website Kijiji for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, new townhouse renting for $1,200 per month.
Listed as broker was Faisal Susiwala, a Cambridge real estate agent.
But remembering lessons in online caution she’d learned from seeing news coverage about Tim Bosma, who may have been targeted by murderers after placing an ad for his truck online, Holfeuer decided to do a bit more investigating.
What she found was that the email address provided for Susiwala didn’t match up with the email addresses he listed elsewhere on the web.
She cautiously emailed the address, and was told that she would have to send money before being allowed to tour the house.
“That was like bells for me,” Holfeuer tells CTV News.
“There’s no way I’m sending my money through Western Union.”
At that point, Holfeuer called Susiwala, who told her that he had nothing to do with the ad and would not have asked for money before even showing her the home.
“A deposit is only handed in either with an offer or after acceptance of an offer,” he says.
Holfeuer wasn’t the only one to fall for the phony advertisement.
Over the past week, Susiwala’s office has received nearly 30 calls about the property.
Susiwala says there could be any number of people who talked to the scammer without also calling his office.
Police say citizens should practice online safety in all situations, even when they think they know the buyer – because, as Holfeuer learned, they may not be who they appear.
“If they see an ad, follow it up with a phone call,” suggests Susiwala.
“Realtors are available 24/7. We’ll get back to you. We’ll definitely make sure that this is all legitimate before you proceed.”
Susiwala says he’s keeping a close eye on Kijiji and other online classifieds, but has yet to see any of his other listings pop up in similar situations.