U.S. Olympian’s parents caught in Whistler scam – Metro US

U.S. Olympian’s parents caught in Whistler scam

The parents of a champion U.S. Olympic bobsledder were scammed $8,000 while trying to rent a duplex in Whistler to watch their son compete.

New York resident Ben Mesler said that in addition to losing the money, he’s struggling to find another place to stay for him and nine friends and relatives.

“We’re in a real bind here,” he said. “I’m upset, incredibly nervous about what’s going to happen.”

His son, Calgary-based Steve Mesler, is competing in his third Winter Olympics as a member of the United States four-men bobsled team that is ranked number 1 in the world.

Since February 2009 Ben and his wife, Lois, believed they had locked up the duplex in Whistler after posting online at rent2010.net that they were looking for accommodation for 10 people. They were contacted by a person using the name Jason Hartlen, who claimed to be a property owner in Whistler.

The Meslers were sent photos of the property via email and even chatted with the supposed landlord on the phone. However, after the final payment was transferred Hartlen became unreachable.

“We became really concerned at that point … My daughter contacted a realtor and found out both units of the duplex had already been rented by (VANOC) from December right through March,” Ben Mesler said.

Mark Zeleky, site administrator for Rent2010, said ads posted are not verified for legitimacy and users are on their own.

“Unfortunately, these episodes do take place,” Zeleky said. “(About) 99.9 per cent of the time things work out as planned … However, you do have to do your homework when working with an individual.”

Whistler RCMP Const. Joseph MacDonald said the Mounties are aware of the issue.