Angela Farrell is a medical technician and single mom looking for a rental home for her and her children.
"I was looking for a fresh start," she said.
So she found a home for rent on Craigslist for just $800 a month, in West Chester, Ohio.
Real House You Can See
"They had pictures of the house, and then he gave me the address to go look at it." She drove by, and immediately fell in love.
But she was confused by the for sale sign in front of the home. "It had a for sale sign out in front of it, and I questioned why had a for sale sign.," she said.
But the "landlord" told her by text messages that "he was going to sell it, but he and his wife decided they were going to rent it out while they were out of the country doing missionary work."
He said he was doing the Lord's work overseas. So she trusted him, and wired a $600 deposit to the number the landlord gave her.
But it was all too good to be true. The house for rent? It was never for rent. It was a real estate listing for sale, and the scammer had copied the ad. This type of scam is now epidemic, realtors say.
Realtor Lynn Schwarber of Comey and Shepherd, who had the real listing, says the owners tell her people started showing up at their door. "it's not for rent, no" she said.
The real owners, she said, "had a few people stop by here, knock on the door,with their faces pressed to the window. There was a mom and a little boy, thinking they could rent it."
Scammer gets Money,Cancels Cell Phone
By the time Schwarber reported it to Craigslist, the ad, and the scammer, had disappeared. When we called, his phone had been disconnected.
But it was too late for Farrell, whose hard earned money is now in the hands of a scammer...In some far off country.
"I think it's sad that somebody preys on other people, their kindness. He took advantage of me in my time of need," Farrell said.
So don't let this happen to you.
- Never send money to a landlord you haven't met, especially if he is out of town.
- Never wire a rental deposit by Western Union, as it is untraceable.
- And beware rental homes or apartments that are priced much lower than others in the area.
That way you don't waste your money.