TRU advising students be cautious after rental scams

By Chad Klassen
August 25, 2016 - 4:31pm Updated: August 25, 2016 - 5:39pm

KAMLOOPS — International students looking for off-campus housing are being warned by Thompson Rivers University to be aware of possible rental scams.

This comes after two students from abroad were nearly the victims of scams for rental units in Kamloops that don't exist.

Fortunately, with some quick thinking the students contacted the university and averted disaster.

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Students, mainly international ones, are starting to arrive at TRU. There are some with housing already secured, while others are still looking. 

For students house hunting, the university is putting out a warning after international students from Norway and India were nearly scammed last week. 

"We had students that were looking for cheap accomodation close to TRU, and I think that's what the fraudster basically capitalizes on," says TRU World's manager of international housing Craig Engleson. 

The norweigan student found a place on Kijiji near the campus and emailed the suitor. But after a few emails back and forth, the suspect wanted money. 

"The person said 'okay, it's time to pay for the rent. Wire the money to my Spanish bank account. That's when basically the red flags went off," says Engleson. "They were able to get in touch with our student advisor, and we were able to track it down that this person was a scam."

The students were told in the email they would be living on 500 Camosun Cresent, which according to Google Maps, doesn't exist.

TRU says these scams are rare but do happen. Some are recommending students from abroad just stay on campus. 

"Live on campus," says Karan Supal, a second-year TRU student from India. "It's pretty good because you're closer to campus, too. You might pay a little bit extra, but in the long run, you don't have the hassle or aren't stressing because you have problems with landlords."

It cost students $7,250 to stay at TRU Residence for the year, averaging $900 per month. Across campus, at McGill housing, which is more dorm-style living, it's $4,200 a year, or $525 a month.

The university has over 800 units, and there are still some available. 

"Right now we're nearly full in TRU Residence. At McGill housing, we do have about 20-25 spaces, depending on the day," says TRU Residence GM Brandon de Krieger. "Right now, we're getting cancellations daily, hourly, and people comfirming their spots just as fast."

For the students choosing to stay off campus, the university is urging them to proceed with caution.    

"The student was caught in a situation but we were able to help. So if there are red flags, anything that seems out of the ordinary, please get in touch with us right away and we'll help in any way we can," says Engleson.

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