Every year, people looking for a new place to live in the New Year end up scammed out of hundreds of dollars.
It's called the "rental scam," and it is alive and well as we start 2018. One young mom just lost money to a slick rental ad.
Sends deposit for home shown in ad
Sierra Ghee is trying to keep a positive face in front of her 2-year-old son. But this single mom is now devastated after becoming the latest rental scam victim.
"I found this house on Craigslist," she said. "And I was like, 'OK, I can pay this, and it's a nice little house.'"
Ghee had found an ad for a cute little house for just $700 a month.
Unfortunately, the landlord told her he was out of town for a few weeks.
"He says, 'OK, let's just put down a security deposit so we can take it off the website,' which makes sense," she said.
Since all she had were the photos, she drove by to confirm the house was real.
"I went by it during the daytime to get a sneak peek. It's a beautiful house, and its going to be my house when I move in," Ghee thought.
So she agreed to transfer the owner half of the security deposit, until she could get inside for a full tour. She thought she was being savvy.
But after receiving the $350 money transfer, the so-called owner never returned another call.
We did not show the outside of the house, because a family recently bought it and lives there. The photos (including interior shots) were stolen from last year's real estate listing.
Phony landlord disappears
We tried to reach the alleged landlord, but just got a cell phone voice mail. Nor did he respond to our email to his Gmail address.
The ad is now gone, and Sierra Ghee is now out $350.
"Would you like it if someone took advantage of you in your hard times, and just snatched it? It's like popping somebody's dream," she said.
So how can you protect yourself? Never send money to a landlord if you can't meet and tour the apartment or home.
If he is out of town, and wants money before you can met, chances are good he is not the real owner.
So don't waste your money.
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