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January 6, 2012

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Canadian sublet rooms, fled with at least 300,000 yuan, victims say

A batch of expat tenants in Shanghai are calling on more victims to come forward and file a group lawsuit against a Canadian landlord who ran away after allegedly cheating more than 50 foreigners and some apartment owners of 300,000 yuan in apartment-renting schemes.

Ryan Fedoruk, a 40-year-old Canadian and former part-time English teacher in Shanghai, played his trick as a second-hand landlord who rented about 30 apartments from their owners and sublet them to over 80 tenants, mostly foreigners, throughout 2011, victims said.

Allegedly owing 300,000 yuan to his landlords and tenants, Fedoruk refused to pay the money and instead "disappeared" from the city on December 24, leaving many of his tenants facing evictions from apartment owners even on New Year's Day.

"I know Fedoruk. He is a scammer and he ran away, owing me tens of thousands yuan," said a landlord victim who refused to be named. "He rented the apartments, then he sublet them and disappeared with the money he owed to me and to the poor tenants, but I will find him."

The landlord said he has asked real estate agents to report the scam to police.

Fedoruk has responded that he is in Zhuhai, in southern China's Guangdong Province, for the purpose of borrowing money so that he can pay people back. But he has not responded to any e-mails or phone calls for more than a week.

Daniel Kwan, a tenant victim who is representing some 45 other victims in the scam, is now calling on other victims to collect evidence together and press charges against Fedoruk, said his lawyer Eva Gao.

Kwan said in an online article that he had sent e-mails to all tenants listed in Fedoruk's database, asking those who are owed money to send details about their situation and to take legal action if necessary.

"He is aware of the e-mail that I sent out and said that he will go to jail if I keep this up. I told him that's the point: Pay back the people he owes or he's going to jail," said Kwan.

Gao said she estimates that Fedoruk owes tenants and landlords approximately 300,000 yuan and the number is expected to grow as there are landlords and tenants who are not yet aware of the situation.

"So far we have found Fedoruk cheating tenants by playing such tricks all round the city," said Gao. "In Shanghai, a total of 53 people have been confirmed to be cheated by him."

Gao said most of the victims are foreigners and some of them are foreign students who don't have much experience in house renting.

Kwan told Shanghai Daily the victim number might be more than 53 as he said there were about 80 tenants in the database, but Fedoruk never made a complete database of all tenants.

"There have for sure been more than 80 tenants, and I believe more than 100 but I can't confirm," Kwan said.

Meanwhile, some tenant victims have already been evicted by landlords who owned the apartments that they rented from Fedoruk, while some others are being told to get out.

On New Year's Day, a batch of six foreigners was evicted from Fedoruk's apartment in Lujiazui, and they were given only one day to vacate their apartment, Kwan wrote in the online article.

Shanghai police didn't comment on the issue.

(Alexander Gladstone contributed to this story)


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