The house that was listed for rent on Craigslist. When Obermillers told the actual owners about the scam, it came as a complete surprise as they were only trying to sell it. Google Maps screenshot.

The house that was listed for rent on Craigslist. When Obermillers told the actual owners about the scam, it came as a complete surprise as they were only trying to sell it. Google Maps screenshot.

Mission woman sounding alarm about Abbotsford rental scam

Wendy Obermiller said Craigslist scam tried to swindle her out of damaged deposit, 1st months rent

A Mission woman is sounding the alarm over a rental scam on Craigslist trying to swindle people out of a damage deposit and first month’s rent.

Wendy Obermiller was interested in renting a house in Abbotsford on Mendham Street, with her daughter and senior parents.

She contacted the apparent owner, someone going by the name of Sean Mckeag, who said the house was currently listed for sale on Remax but he and his wife have decided to rent it out instead.

‘Mckeag’ said that he wouldn’t be able to physically show her the interior, as he had recently moved to Cariboo, B.C., but would send her pictures from the realtor’s listing.

If she paid the damage deposit and first month’s rent, Obermiller would then be sent the keys and rental contract via UPS., according to her emails.

A rental application was then sent to her, along with a B.C. phone number.

Obermiller said she started questioning the listing’s legitimacy when she would receive calls and texts from the number telling her to “check her email.”

“Right away I was suspicious of him. And then we actually went to the house,” she said.

Obermiller and her father, Art, walked up to the front door and spoke with the actual owners who were doing a house showing. They told them about the scam, which came as a complete surprise as they were only trying to sell it, according to the Obermillers.

“The family was very upset,” Art said. “This is one of the better scams I’ve ever seen.”

Obermiller said she continued to communicate with the scammer, hoping to gather evidence to bring to the police.

“They stole the advertisement off a real-estate website. They took the pictures of the house and the inside of the house, and then they posted it to Craigslist,” she said. “And he keeps posting it on Craigslist.”

When the Obermillers brought the scam to the attention of the authorities, they said police told them the money needed to be transferred to the scammer for it to be considered fraud, and were told to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC).

“I fully understand, but it looks like it’s a continuing problem,” Art said.

They have attempted to notify the fraud centre, but said they have not received any communication back.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s website says rental scams typically try to entice renters with something “too good to be true,” and use photos from an old or active listing to make the scam look authentic.

The scammers pose as the landlord but claim to be abroad so they will be unable to meet in person, according to CAFC.

“First, they’ll try to get a security deposit, then, they’ll ask for the first month’s rent, and then another month’s rent in exchange for a discount,” says CAFC’s website. “They can even try to rush you into a decision by saying that others are also interested in the property.”

CAFC red flags when looking for a rental:

  • the monthly rent is lower than other similar places
  • you’re asked to leave a deposit without any formal rental agreement or lease in place
  • you’re asked to send money to someone outside the country
  • when you ask about the apartment, you get an email that sends you to a website asking for personal or financial information
  • ads show pictures of the outside of the property only, or pictures that don’t match the actual property or address

CAFC tips on how to avoid being scammed:

  • Go to the address, make sure the listing is truthful and accurate. If you are unable to go in person, use the Internet to see actual images of the rental.
  • Research the address to ensure it is not a duplicate post. You may even conduct a reverse image search to see if the photos were used elsewhere.
  • Schedule a showing and confirm that the landlord will be present.
  • If you plan on renting in a new development, contact the builder to confirm ownership.
  • Request a lease or contract. Review it thoroughly.
  • Be sure to know your rights as a tenant. Consult your provincial or territorial department or ministry of housing.

RELATED: Couple falls victim to Revelstoke rental scam on Kijiji, twice


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

Just Posted

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Suspect tries to thwart police in Abbotsford with false 911 call about men with guns

Man twice sped away from officers and then tried to throw them off his trail

Phyllis Stenson, a mainstay of the local arts scene and the Harrison Festival of the Arts, passed away earlier this month. Stenson was crucial in setting up the foundation for relationships, funding and more that continue even now to echo well past her retirement in 2013. (Contributed Photo/Harrison Festival Society)
Harrison Festival, Fraser Valley arts icon Phyllis Stenson mourned

Stenson passed away in late November, leaving lasting legacy of passion for the arts behind

The Mission Christmas Bureau will run from Dec. 7-18. The bureau’s Wish Campaign has a long way to go to reach the $110,000 fundraising goal. / Submitted Photo
VIDEOS: Mission Christmas Bureau a long way from fundraising goal

This year the needs within the community are greater than ever due to Covid-19

The westbound lanes of Highway 1 between Clearbrook and McCallum roads were closed to traffic Wednesday morning after a fatal collision involving a pedestrian.
Pedestrian dies after being struck by vehicle on Highway 1 in Abbotsford

Collision takes place early Wednesday morning between Clearbrook and McCallum roads

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Most Read