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Marketplace Pro

Team Project by Yier Cao, Jake Gu, Samantha Ho, Yinuo Jing, Nancy Xiang

Marketplace Pro is a project that aimed to provide secure transactions, reliable renting information and experience for newcomers to Toronto by adding new features to Facebook Marketplace.


We have observed that the online renting platforms are not providing comprehensive information and valid verification, which is causing financial losses and mental panic to newcomer renters in Toronto.  


How might we improve online renting experience so that our users are more successful based on security and reliability?

Research & Analysis

Secondary Research

Prevalence of Rental Scams

Various reports and news articles indicate a rising trendin rental scams, especially on online platforms like Facebook Marketplace.

Platforms Involved

Rental scams are especially prevalent on online platforms, where the anonymity and lack of regulation are taken advantaged of.

Scam Techniques

Rental scam deploys various techniques, including impersonating landlords, privacy and identity theft, requesting deposits or advance payments.

Financial & Emotional Impact

Rental scams not only affects financial well-being but also overall mental health, which can have long-term consequences.

Impacts on Newcomers

Newcomers to Toronto are particularly vulnerable to rental scams because they are unfamiliar with rental market.

Awareness & Technology

How can technologies and designs help newcomers, or become new threats taken advantage of by scammers?

Primary Research


61 responses have been received,

of which 57 responses are effective, 

from individuals with Toronto rental experience on online platforms.


10 one-on-one interviews are conducted to gather more qualitative data.

The interview sessions last about 15 minutes. 

What aspects of renting concern you the most? 

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Shared Issues from The Interviews:

Doubts about the authenticity of the landlord

Inability to confirm the condition of the property in person

Unreliable information about the property

Insecure Transaction

Rebecca's Story

This is Rebecca,
A Newcomer to Toronto,
Looking for A Rental Property.

"Renting that is too expensive is unaffordable,
                                                         but too cheap is untrustworthy."


Untitled design 1.png
  • 22 years old

  • Single Female

  • Full-Time Student

  • Toronto, ON

  • International Student


  • Newcomer to Toronto

  • Unable to view rentals in person

  • Unfamilar with rental situation in Toronto

  • Aware of scams,but unsure what to do

  • A budget limit

  • Use multiple online rentals platforms


  • To rent an affordable place that is close to school, in a safe and quiet neighbourhood


  • Not being able to see the place in person

  • Not believing postings online


  • Desire for an online platform that has scam prevention and verification on rental listings

Rebecca Says...

“I think I can spot a lot of scams, like listings below market price.”

“I always receive many spams from the platforms.”

“Suspicious listings are asking for deposit upfront.”

Rebecca Thinks...

"There are a large amounts of scams."
"Is there anything weird or suspicious about the postings and contract?"

"I want a third party to ensure transaction and contract validity."

Rebecca Does...

Use a lot of filters to sort postings

Constantly assess postings

Research and verify through reviews and comments

Rebecca Feels...

Use a lot of filters to sort postings

Constantly assess postings

Research and verify (reviews, comments)

So Rebecca Needs...

Rebecca needs a way to secure her transactions and be able to trace the money back if an accident happens so that she will not lose money.

Rebecca needs a way to establish and maintain a budget limit so that she can prioritize for the best affordable option.

Rebecca needs a way to verify the authenticity of the landlord and listing and so that she will not be scammed by fake landlord.

Rebecca needs a way to verify the condition of the properties without visiting them in person so that she can avoid mismatched information.

Ideation & Prototype

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Facebook Marketplace

Instead of designing an application from scratch,

our team decided to design new features for Facebook Marketplace,

one of the most popular online renting platforms.


Help Wanted Board

For information inquiries, recruit and reward the locals to check the condition and authenticity of the properties.

Rebecca posts a question

and receives comments.

Rebecca posts a favor request

and receives help.

Rebecca seeks help from the locals without being in Toronto in-person.


Account Verification

Accounts that wish to engage in financial transactions will have to upload a piece of government id and facial recognition system.

Rebecca checks the verification details 

of the account.

Rebecca determines whether the landlord is verified and avoids interacting with potential scammers.


Transaction On-Hold

The transaction happens through the platform, on-hold and not released to the landlord until everything is settled.

Rebecca pays the landlord and realizes that her deposit is safely held by the platform.

Rebecca has her money on hold and can get her money back in case of scams.

My Contribution

Research & Analysis

  • Participated in designing survey

  • Conducted two in-person interviews

  • Visualize the research data as graphs and affinity diagram

Rebecca's Story

  • Participated in the analysis of research data and translated it into Persona, Empathy Map and Needs Statements

  • Designed and visualized Persona, Empathy Map and Needs Statements

Ideation & Prototype

  • Designed the Low-Fi storyboard of Forum Flow

  • Designed the Mid-Fi Prototype of Forum Flow

Leadership in Teamwork

  • Coordinated team meeting time and hosted the team meeting

  • Organized and managed team playback and deliverable documents

  • Organize task assignments and create team work schedules

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