The North Bay Police Service says it has received reports of scammers taking money from victims by advertising fake rental listings online.

In some cases, police said victims have shown up to properties they think they have paid to rent, only to find out they have been tricked.

"Be careful when you are looking for a residence to rent online," police said in a news release Friday.

"The North Bay Police Service has recently received reports that scammers are posting fraudulent rental listings on online marketplace websites."

This is how the fraud works. Scammers "accept" the victim's application to rent the property and then ask for rent money via electronic transfer.

After the victim sends the money, the scammers cut off contact.

"The rental listings often use images and details about real residences in North Bay that are not for rent," police said.

"This is done without the permission or knowledge of the current residents. In some instances, after paying rent, victims attended the address on their scheduled move-in dates only to learn that they had been victims of a scam."

School year approaching

These types of frauds often become more prevalent as university and college students begin looking for places to live during the school year.

To protect yourself, the Competition Bureau of Canada advises taking these steps:

• Go to the address and 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 property owner will be present.

• If you plan to rent 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.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of this or any other scam, contact the North Bay Police Service at 705-497-5555. Those wishing to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online.