|2001 October - Vol.1 No.1||Law students publication, University of Alberta, Canada|
Apartment Scam Hits Home
By Anubhav Chaitanya (1L)
Fellow Law students Jason Golbey and Jeff Fixsen were unfortunately involved in an apartment scam that happened in late August in Edmonton. The scam involved about 70 people and the theft of anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000.
At the time, Jeff, a second year law student, was expecting a baby with his wife. They wanted a two-bedroom apartment suite for their expanding family, and saw a sign for one on 9930-86th Avenue. They made inquiries to the resident managers of the building, a mother and her teenager son, both of whom Jeff described as "very friendly."
Jason, a third year student, was informed about the place through his girlfriends parents. Jason pointed out that the resident managers were claiming to rent out four or five suites, but in fact only one was available.
The resident managing family informed all who wanted the place that only cash deposits would be accepted. Jason was asked for a $500 damage deposit, while Jeff was asked for $400. It was later revealed that some individuals seeking the same place gave the family up to a $1000 damage deposit.
On the day before the move, Jeff called the resident manager and asked about the delay in getting his phone number switched. Jeff remembers the mother being nervous and unhelpful. When he called the phone company, he was told six other people were also trying to get their numbers switched to the same location.
At that point, the phone company called the resident managers to find out what was going on. Soon after, the family left the apartment building and the police were called in.
Jason found out about this situation on August 29th, being told that the family fled the city with the money of about 70 people plus a personal loan they had acquired from the owner of the building.
A media blitz covered the situation and all its chaos. U-Haul moving trucks were showing up in droves with people who had come from as far as Hong Kong and London. Many people were stuck without a place to stay. The owner, however, took responsibility for the situation and reimbursed both Jeff and Jason for their deposits. Both, eventually, found other places to stay.
As of yet the family has not been apprehended. So, a word of caution to any student seeking an apartment in the near future: be wary of resident managers who seem all too nice and all too demanding of cash deposits.© 2001 Anubhav Chaitany