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'I'm a sucker': Burnaby tenant duped by heinous fake parking spot scam

Scammer rents out parking spaces that they don't own
underground parking scam spot
Underground garage or modern car parking with lots of vehicles, perspective

If you don’t live in a condo or apartment building that has underground parking, I’ll fill you in on a little side hustle for people who own units but don’t own a vehicle.

When you buy into a building, you are assigned a parking spot (or two) that comes with the purchase. Many people who don’t use those spots then rent them out to people who rent in the building or other owners who perhaps have a second vehicle.

I rent a spot in my building because we were only assigned one spot. Sergi has been renting out his spot to me because he lost his job during the pandemic and had to sell his car. It's been great because I've been working from home and street parking is timed during the day.

This really paid off recently when all of the vehicles on the street were repeatedly buried by snow while my vehicle sat nice and warm in the underground garage.

But I made sure I saw the paperwork that he own his spot. I did my due diligence.

Why was I so paranoid?

Because some people have been running scams in which they are renting out parking spots that don’t actually belong to them.

I wrote about this previously and now more Burnaby renters have been duped in the same building.

Oliver lives in a condo building in the Metrotown area. Parking on the street is nearly non-existent in his neighbourhood and so he paid someone $75 a month to park in their spot.

At least he was told it was their spot. Oliver had responded months earlier to a note on the lobby message board about a parking spot that was available.

“One day I come down to my truck and it’s gone,” Oliver said. “I thought it had been stolen but when I finally got the building manager on the phone I was told that the strata had had my truck towed. I blew up, telling him I rent the spot from the owner.”

Except it was the owner of the spot who reported the truck was in their spot.

“The manager finally passed on my message to the owner and they denied that they were renting out the spot,” Oliver said. “They don’t have their own vehicle, but said their son was visiting and when they had him go to park, they of course found my truck sitting there and so they called the tow truck. It’s so embarrassing. I rented the spot via text message and then I just transfer the money each month. It didn’t seem weird because of COVID. I just trusted them but I’m a sucker, I guess.”

It turns out Oliver wasn’t the only one. The building decided to do an audit of all of the parking spaces, asking owners who don’t normally use the spots to check their spaces. Two other people had been paying the scammer to rent spots in the building. The scammer relied on the owners not ever visiting parking spot they don't normally use.

My building has dozens of empty parking spots that nobody ever uses.

“It seems like a real risk for only a little bit of money, but there are some terrible people out there,” Oliver said.

The only good thing is that the real owner of the spot took pity on Oliver and is letting him use the spot for free.

“They said they weren’t using it anyways,” he said. “It was a nice gesture.”

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.