Counterfeited Documents, Lies, Deceit, Stolen Identity

It’s enough to make your head spin, isn’t it? These are some of the Scams that landlords in North America are subjected to every day and if AWARENESS is not part of the tenant screening process then there will be financial loss.

Example: Hello Mr. /Ms. Landlord…I am calling/emailing you from London England and I would like to rent the suite that you have advertised. My employer is re-locating me to your area and has provided me with a ten thousand dollar check for relocation purposes. I can pay you for the first month’s rent and the security deposit right away as I would like to secure a place to live before I journey over. I will send you my employer’s check… cash it and return the balance owed to me via Western Union. Please and thank you very much. (this is the scenario in a nut shell).

If you fall for this SCAM then you will lose thousands of dollars. The employer’s check that you receive will be a counterfeited document which means that it is worthless. Meanwhile your cashier’s check sent via Western Union will have been cashed and no hope of a trace as to who cashed it.

This scam is attempted in many thousands of instances in North America everyday on anyone who advertises a big ticket item either online (craig’s list) or the classifieds. Never ever put yourself in this situation no matter what the circumstance and no matter how nice the person on the other end of the phone is. Don’t be a fraud victim!

The two websites noted above give you some valuable information on current scams. Take the time to educate yourself on how fraudsters work. Be a Skeptic, don’t believe what you are told when you don’t know who you are dealing with. Check it out! Visit these sites periodically to update your knowledge of what new scams are being perpetrated.

Counterfeited Documents

How hard is it these days to counterfeit documents? Well if you are computer illiterate then it’s a little tougher…you would have to find someone with a computer and a little bit of knowledge with photo shop software or one of several dozen other software programs that create documents. So we’re being a little facetious here of course, but it is not difficult at all to create or have created counterfeited documents.

Fraudsters who have intent to deceive you can create phony Driver’s Licenses, phony employment records, bank statements, and even his/her own credit report. Yes Really!

That is why you should never rely on documents alone when considering an application for rent; verify everything that is presented to you. i.e. identification, employment records, annual income, previous addresses etc. Identity thieves in particular are prolific at creating false documents…you need to be smarter than they are, so verify what is presented to you. Refer to the check list below, ask questions and know who your prospective tenant is before you sign a lease.

Do not let yourself be talked out of the due diligence process, even if your applicant professes to be the Best Guy in Town. Don’t believe what the nice good looking young man with the brief case tells you. Fraudsters play the Fraud Rental Game, and generally landlords and property managers who do not conduct the proper due diligence lose this game and it can be quite costly.

Identity Theft

How can it affect you? If you don’t know who you’re signing the lease with and/or who you’re handing the keys over to, then you will probably suffer income loss, hassles, stress and a lot of wasted person hours in dealing with the problem. In the end you will be chasing a ghost for the money that you lost.

Identity theft and fraud is the fastest growing industry in the world and low lifers the world over are taking advantage of the naiveté of people and the financial systems loop holes to the tune of billions of dollars annually.

Warning: If you do not conduct the proper due diligence to determine who you are dealing with, you may end up being a fraud victim.

How do you protect yourself against Identity Theft and Fraudsters? If you’re a landlord or a property manager, you should:

  • Have the prospective tenant complete a rental application in its entirety; make sure that it is legible! Key words here: in its entirety and legible!
  • Obtain 2 pieces of identification; one piece should have a photo ID. Look at the photo and look at the applicant…”just do it” like Nike says. Many landlords obtain 2 pieces of ID but never compare the photo to the Individual!
  • Order a credit report and compare the information to what is on the rental application, does it match?
    Use the credit report as an interview tool…so Mr/Ms prospective tenant, can you tell me with what financial institution you have/had a bank loan with? What credit card company are you with? Roughly what is the balance of the loan/credit card? Collections? Bankruptcies? Previous telephone #?
  • Do a reverse search here: on the telephone number to see if it matches the name that you were given. WITH THIS …. Do a reverse search here: on the telephone number to see if the location matches the information which the tenant gave you. E.G. does the location match the address given to you by the applicant? DO NOT ORDER THE NAME FOR THIS UNTIL YOU READ THE FINE PRINT!
  • Verify employment by calling the employer, do a reverse search on the telephone number to ensure the name matches the alleged employer. Then ask…how long they have been employed there? What type of job classification? Annual income? Your authorization on the rental application should include employment checks which you can fax to the employer if requested. If you know the income amount then Employer would likely confirm with a Yes/No.
  • Is that your car out there? I need to confirm the name on the registration if it is going to be parked here as that is part of my criteria for tenancy, I always confirm registration. OH! It’s not in your name…do you have a reasonable explanation?
  • Oh your self employed, I will require your W-2 (USA) or your T-4 (CDN) and a recent bank statement then to verify your annual income. Thank you.
  • When you conduct your walk thru inspection in the tenant’s presence, take some photos, some should include the tenant in the rental unit. This serves two purposes. 1.) The tenant knows that you have proof of what the rental looked like prior to move in 2.) If the tenant is really camera shy you may want to dig a little deeper and find out why.

This kind of due diligence along with some of your own techniques will ensure that you know who you are dealing with. Landlords and property managers have to be devious and resourceful in a way that will benefit and serve to minimize risk of income loss. As a young Bank Manager once stated, “know your Customer”! The same applies to landlords and property managers, know your tenant! No one is in the business of losing money. Be devious and resourceful, it’s a free benefit that doesn’t cost you anything.

Lies & Deceit!

All or most of the above noted information deals with lies & deceit, but you should be aware of Individuals (professional abusers of the system) who will take advantage of a landlord or property manager who does not know the tenancy laws, rules and regulations and where the proper forms are not completed or completed properly, and where the landlord or property manager is not fully aware of Rights & Responsibilities.

If you get such a person you could lose many thousands of dollars. One such landlord in Toronto, Ontario lost just over $18,000.00 in an arbitration dispute simply because she did not know her Rights & Responsibilities as a landlord. It was learned in this instance that the tenant had previously taken two other landlords to arbitration and won. She used the system to her advantage.
If only the landlord had known! Can your business afford to lose this kind of money? If not then you should make yourself familiar with landlord Rights & Responsibilities as they pertain to your State/Province. is an educational website for Tenants and for Landlords. In the links tab you will find the various state/provincial tenancy acts. If not then Google your State/Province’s tenancy act.

Educate yourself…. play by the rules… and know the rules!

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