Halifax Regional Police are investigating a landlord after nearly a dozen complaints from students who say he took off with thousands of dollars in deposits.
Jeff Cook, a university student in Halifax, is one of several people who signed leases and paid deposits for a flat at 1740 Robie St.
"There's a big group of us. We're all supposed to be living in the same place," he told CBC News on Wednesday.
"We can't live with 30 people in there. That's just not going to happen."
The prospective renters found each other through a 19-year-old woman, who had seen pictures of the apartment online and went for a viewing.
She paid $2,200 in cash and signed a lease with a landlord named Cyrano Carette, in order to secure the apartment for September.
"For 30 days after that, he maintained contact with us and everything seemed sound about what we'd done," said the woman, who did not want to be named.
"Then after that, he started ignoring his texts, phone, email, Facebook. We tried everything to get in contact with him with no success."
Fearing she had been scammed, the woman posted an advertisement on Kijiji this week — three months after she signed the lease — asking anyone else to come forward if they had also signed leases for 1740 Robie St.
"I put out the Kijiji ad. Within one day, I had seven replies," she said.
Dalhousie sends out email warning
That's how she met Cook and Calvin Gleason, who each paid $535 to rent a room at the same apartment.
"I can't believe this housing situation," said Cook.
Gleason said the landlord, Carette, frequently reminded them there was stiff competition for the apartment.
"He was telling us the whole time that he had people lined up. He definitely did," Gleason told CBC News.
Carette could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Halifax Regional Police Const. Brian Palmeter said the police have received 11 complaints so far about the apartment and landlord and it's being investigated as a potential case of fraud.
"The activity is somewhat suspicious, for people to make and accept a binding agreement with multiple different parties," he said.
Dalhousie University also sent out an email warning students about a potential scam.
"Over the last few days, Dalhousie Security Services has received reports of an off-campus housing scam that has resulted in numerous students being defrauded of hundreds of dollars," the email said.
"We are encouraging individuals who have been affected by this scam to contact the HRP Fraud Section and complete an online police report as soon as possible."
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