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House for rent in the Islands: people report they have been scammed

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According to several testimonies, the alleged fraudster offers to rent a house that does not belong to her and demands payments and then cancels the reservation without reimbursement. (Archive photo)

  • Isabelle Larose (View profile)Isabelle Larose

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Planning a summer vacation in the Magdalen Islands has turned into a nightmare for many people . They allege that they paid hundreds of dollars to reserve a house where they could never set foot.

Nearly ten people believe they were defrauded by the same woman while trying to rent a house in the Magdalen Islands for summer vacation.

Maryse Bélanger, a resident of Campbellton, New Brunswick, is among them. She says she lost $1,700 in the adventure.

Her troubles began in November, when she published a message in the Facebook group called J'announce aux Îles. She indicated that she was looking for a house to rent in August 2024 for six people.

Quickly, she was contacted by a lady who claimed to want to rent her residence to her, in the Fatima sector.

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Right away, the lady sent me photos. The place was interesting, the landscape, the number of rooms, it was exactly what we wanted. So we reserved the house, says Maryse Bélanger.

The alleged owner of the house asked Ms. Bélanger to immediately pay a $600 deposit, which she agreed to do.

A week later, she wanted the rest of the payment, or $800, says Maryse Bélanger. I found it strange, but I knew there was nothing left to rent on the Islands. I wanted to guarantee my place, so I paid.

Ms. Bélanger indicates that she spoke on the phone with the lady several times. I became friends with the lady, she gave me confidence and we chatted regularly, she emphasizes.

In February, the alleged owner called Ms. Bélanger back to ask her to quickly pay additional cleaning fees, which were not initially anticipated.

Maryse Bélanger then began to find the situation somewhat strange. However, still worried about losing her accommodation, she made a new transfer of funds, she relates.

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«I can't believe I'm “I've been fooled,” says Maryse Bélanger, who thought she was well informed about fraud schemes.

Shortly after, the lady informed her that she was not going to rent her house this summer. She indicated that she would be able to find other accommodation for Ms. Bélanger and her friends, without however providing photos.

Maryse Bélanger refused and asked that the $1,700 paid be reimbursed to her, which has not been done to date, she assures.

In recent days, this Campbellton resident learned on social media that other people had a similar story with the same person and then realized she was scammed.

I felt really cheated. However, I am a person who follows the news, who is aware of potential fraud. I was totally fooled, it shocks me to no end.

A quote from Maryse Bélanger

My trip to the Islands is starting to turn into a nightmare and I don't find it funny at all, she adds.

Ms. Bélanger intends to file a complaint with the police. She specifies that this whole story is causing her enormous stress, because she fears she will never see the color of her money again.

I don't sleep at night, neither does my husband, he has insomnia, she says. I don't have $1700 to go down the drain. It was my vacation plan, with money I had saved for it.

Éric Desbiens, a resident of Marieville, in Montérégie, also says he was the victim of the same malicious ploy on the part of the same lady who came into contact with Maryse Bélanger.

In August 2023, he gave her a $1,000 deposit toward her 2024 vacation after she posted a lodging ad on Facebook.

Shortly after, Mr. Desbiens purchased land in the Islands and wanted to cancel his reservation 11 months before his planned vacation. However, the lady refused to refund her deposit, he claims. She even demanded the rest of the payment.

When she asked me to pay the rest, I I started to suspect a little that it was fraud, he explains.

Mr. Desbiens then inquired with several of his Magdalen friends who told him that the house to be rented would not even belong to the lady who claims to be renting it.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">In December, he filed a complaint with the Sureté du Québec. To date, no charges have yet been brought against the alleged fraudster. For this reason, Radio-Canada has chosen to conceal his identity.

In recent days, Éric Desbiens has thought it would be good to post a message on a Madelinot Facebook group to prevent other people from falling victim to this scam. His message snowballed and confirmed the existence of several other victims.

My phone didn't ring. I confirmed with seven or eight people that they had been defrauded by the same lady as me.

A quote from Éric Desbiens

According to Éric Desbiens, several of these people also plan to file a complaint.

There are families who made reservations and who lost all their savings, he laments. For some it's $1000, others $1800.

Guest to comment on this situation, Tourism Îles de la Madeleine declined our interview request.

In an email, this regional tourist association still advises visitors to ensure that the accommodation they wish to rent has a registration number from the Corporation de l'industrie tourisme du Québec (CITQ) which confirms that this accommodation is in order.

Visitors can also go through our website to view the accommodations which are members with us and which also have their CITQ number, writes the communications and promotion agent of Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine, Frédéric Myrand.

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Certified tourist residences have a CITQ registration number. (Archive photo)

For her part, Maryse Bélanger tries to learn lessons from this adventure. From this experience, what I remember is to check certified accommodation places, she says.

This New Brunswicker still plans to go to the Magdalen Islands this summer if she cannot find new accommodation. It's a trip that will probably cost me a lot of money, she laments.

  • Isabelle Larose (View profile)Isabelle LaroseSuivre
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116