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Apartment scam cheats potential tenants out of thousands
Published Tuesday, May 14, 2013 6:26PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, May 14, 2013 6:55PM CST
Jill Shirley and Chelsey Streifel met for the first time Tuesday. They came together because they’re victims of the same scam: Each found a Kijiji posting for an apartment to rent on Kingsmere Boulevard, and each lost over $1,000.
Shirley and Streifel both met with a man who they thought was the landlord of the apartment. “He was good looking, I don’t want to say that anymore, but he was clean cut, Caucasian, and young,” Shirley said.
Each time, the man identified himself as Jason Hartlen, and he had keys to the apartment and showed it to the interested parties. Hartlen even had each woman sign a lease, and then took an $1,100 deposit.
The hopeful tenants were told they could move in on May 1, but when the day came close, they got a call saying there was a problem with black mold.
When Streifel went to confront the supposed landlord, she received quite a surprise. “A young girl came to the door and said, ‘Come in I’ll help you, you are the second couple today. I recommend you go to the police.’ She was actually living there,” Streifel said. “We were so shocked. We couldn’t believe that we had been so scammed. We met this young guy and he was so polite and professional.”
According to police, Shirley and Streifel aren’t the only victims. Police said 33-year-old Hartlen has scammed at least 18 people this way.
“It’s a lot of money but this isn’t his first kick at the cat,” said Sgt. Keith Briant. “The suspect that we’ve identified through photo lineups is also wanted in British Columbia and Calgary for the same type of offense."
Police have issued a warrant for Hartlen’s arrest. They’re hoping to narrow the search in the next few days, and ultimately get his victim’s their money back.