Renters beware: 3 local woman fall victim to housing scam - KMSP-TV

Renters beware: 3 local woman fall victim to housing scam

Posted: Updated:
(WJBK) -

Three local women have fallen victim to a renting scam.

The Better Business Bureau says to always do your homework when looking to rent a property. Also a good idea is to find out who actually owns the property by going to the city, the county or going online. Make sure you ask the renter for some references and talk to the neighbors. Also, always walk through the property to know what you're getting yourself into.  

VIDEO: Click on the video player above to hear the three women's stories in a report from Fox 2's Amy Lange, or read the story below
_____

"It's, like, not livable at all here."

"I got scammed and it was just B.S."

"I just really wanted to be in a house for the holidays to enjoy it or whatever, and now I just don't have a place to go."

Three women; three different scenarios they call scams.

Tamika Johnson says she found this Cloverlawn home on Craigslist, went to see it, liked it, and paid $675 for a deposit and application fee. But, she says, when it came time to move in the house wasn't what she agreed to.

"There was no side door. The hot water wasn't working and it was just filthy. I asked the man for my money back, and he just kept saying it was in an escrow account," Johnson explains.

Next door on Cloverlawn - this disaster: no furnace, missing pipes, a kitchen without a sink or stove. The ceiling in the back bedroom, falling down.

"Very stressful. I'm tired, stressed out. I don't know what to do. I don't know how I'm going to get money back," says Ciera Parks.

She paid $1,500 to rent this dump. She made the fatal mistake of signing a lease without seeing it first. It's in foreclosure proceedings now and she can't even contact the company listed. We tried, but here's the address on the paperwork - a burned out building on Gratiot with no roof.

You can see the bassinets - Parks is four months pregnant and has two other children, ages fives and eight. She moved in here so they all had a home but it's clear nobody can live here, can they?

"No. They can't. Not no one. I wouldn't ask anyone to move in this house," she says.

And then there's 20-year-old Ashleigh Auten, also pregnant and a single mom. She thought she found a perfect place on Zillow. It really is for rent but not by the people she paid. Someone created a fake listing, a guy claiming to be Patrick Williams and claiming he was with the military, and scammed Auten out of $700, which she wired through Western Union to Pennsylvania. And then he wanted more.

"And I'm like, 'No. I'm not sending you any more money,'" Auten says.

The guy claiming to be Patrick Williams has his number posted on several fake Zillow listings, so many scams and much money lost by people who can't afford it. Melanie Dusquesnel with the Better Business Bureau says renters beware.

"You need to take your time and do your homework," she says. "It's a difference between having your money do what you want it to do versus having your money do for somebody else what they want it to do."

Auten made a police report, which is exactly what authorities say you should do. Johnson went to police as well. Fox 2 was able to contact the man who took Johnson's deposit. He claims the property was in perfect shape and she just decided she didn't like it. He also admitted the home is in foreclosure proceedings but said his company is making payments. He also said he will refund her money.

Fox 2's Amy Lange asks him on the phone, "Are you going to return that deposit?"

He responds, "Absolutely. As soon as she give me a forwarding address we can return it today."

Johnson says she will believe it when she sees it, but all of these women want to warn others.

"Here it is, Christmas time, and I have my five year old and I'm pregnant and I'm dealing with all this. Now I don't have a house and I thought that I was going to and got my hopes up, got my five year old's hopes up, and now I'm just out of everything," Auten says.

Find out who actually owns the property by going to the city, the county or going online. Make sure you ask for some references. Talk to the neighbors, any number of things you can do to make sure you're getting a transaction that is legitimate, and always walk through the property to know what you're getting yourself into.

  • Amy LangeMore from Amy LangeMore>>

  • Three arrested after military reservist killed during carjacking

    Three arrested after military reservist killed during carjacking

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-07-29 23:01:39 GMT
    A third suspect is under arrest in the carjacking and murder of a young man outside the Superland Market at Schoolcraft Road and Rutland Street Monday night.
    A third suspect is under arrest in the carjacking and murder of a young man outside the Superland Market at Schoolcraft Road and Rutland Street Monday night.
  • Fire from lightning strike devastates Roseville church

    Fire from lightning strike devastates Roseville church

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:10 PM EDT2014-07-29 16:10:35 GMT
    A raging fire happens in Roseville and of all places to be struck by lightning - the steeple of the New Life Church of God in Christ.Pastor Darrell Moore and his family are devastated."I got here and I found out I really didn't have a church anymore, " he said. Moore was attending a Sunday evening service at another church, when a member of new life called him repeatedly. When he finally answered, it was bad news."The fire department was here, there was water everywhere," said Mary Moore, mot...
    A raging fire happens in Roseville and of all places to be struck by lightning - the steeple of the New Life Church of God in Christ.Pastor Darrell Moore and his family are devastated."I got here and I found out I really didn't have a church anymore, " he said. Moore was attending a Sunday evening service at another church, when a member of new life called him repeatedly. When he finally answered, it was bad news."The fire department was here, there was water everywhere," said Mary Moore, mot...
  • Charges to be determined after teen dies in car crash

    Charges to be determined after teen dies in car crash

    Monday, July 28 2014 7:59 PM EDT2014-07-28 23:59:07 GMT
    Seven teenagers were on their way back from a bonfire late Friday night. A 16-year-old girl was behind the wheel of the Ford Expedition with her mom also in the car.
    Seven teenagers were on their way back from a bonfire late Friday night. A 16-year-old girl was behind the wheel of the Ford Expedition with her mom also in the car.
  • Download the FOX 2 Apps


  • FOX 2 News Five-Day Forecast
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Detroit Tigers Minor League Pitcher charged with sexual assault

    Detroit Tigers Minor League Pitcher charged with sexual assault

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:14 PM EDT2014-07-30 19:14:35 GMT
    Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced Wednesday that former Detroit Tigers pitcher, Evan Reed, is charged with two counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct.
    Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced Wednesday that former Detroit Tigers pitcher, Evan Reed, is charged with two counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct.
  • FBI execute search warrant in connection to murder of Armada Teen, April Millsap

    FBI execute search warrant in connection to murder of Armada Teen, April Millsap

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 2:08 PM EDT2014-07-30 18:08:43 GMT
    The FBI is searching a house is near Wales Center and Marquette roads in Wales Township in St. Clair County in connection to the murder of 14-year-old April Millsap of Armada.
    The FBI is searching a house is near Wales Center and Marquette roads in Wales Township in St. Clair County in connection to the murder of 14-year-old April Millsap of Armada.
  • Attorney wants investigation of city clerk over Arab-American voter suppression

    Attorney wants investigation of city clerk over Arab-American voter suppression

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:43 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:43:20 GMT
    It is the tale of two cities. one paints a picture of a meticulous Dearborn Heights city clerk, following the law and fighting for a fair election. The other a story of abuse of power, mishandled ballots and voter suppression.Fatima Abdrabboh is an attorney and Michigan's director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee the largest chapter in the country. She is calling for a full-scale investigation into claims that Walter Prusiewicz mishandled ballots from Arab-American voters fo...
    It is the tale of two cities. one paints a picture of a meticulous Dearborn Heights city clerk, following the law and fighting for a fair election. The other a story of abuse of power, mishandled ballots and voter suppression.Fatima Abdrabboh is an attorney and Michigan's director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee the largest chapter in the country. She is calling for a full-scale investigation into claims that Walter Prusiewicz mishandled ballots from Arab-American voters fo...
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices