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Is your landlord a scammer? How some renters are getting kicked out

Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 13:37:12-04

PHOENIX — Let's say you're a renter in the Valley... and finally, find a place you can afford.

But days after you move in, police are knocking on your door and windows wanting you out.

It was a scary experience that one mom and daughter went through and now they're warning other renters.

It started when Mary and her daughter Madison saw an ad on Facebook Marketplace for a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house.

"When I came across this house, beautiful house, nice price, I couldn't pass it up," Mary said.

It's easy to see why Mary was so excited and texted the owner right away.

In a market where similar homes go for at least $2,000 a month, this one rents for just over $1,000.

"He said it was reduced because I was going through the owner of the property instead of realty," Mary stated.

Owner Charlie Williams said he was a truck driver and couldn't meet Mary at the house.

Instead, he wanted a $2,000 deposit sent to him through CashApp.

Mary sent $1,450 and agreed to send the rest later.

"He said when you get there let me know and I'll send you the code for the door," she said.

He did send it and the keyless code worked. So, the whole thing seemed legitimate.

Mary and Madison moved in... then all hell broke loose.

They say potential renters were continually knocking at the door saying the home was still listed and they wanted to see it.

"I hear people knocking on the windows and back door and everything, so I go open the door and there are 2 cops," Madison said.

It turns out... the low rent price, the owner not able to be there, everything done by text and payment app, Charlie Williams didn't own the house.

Mary had been scammed and the scammer wasn't ready to give up.

He actually talked to police who were in the home and told them he was the owner and they needed to leave.

All the while, the scammer was pushing Mary to send the remaining $550 deposit money she hadn't paid.

If she did, he told her the whole mess would be cleared up because "my lawyer can be on his way."

This time, it didn't work.

"Have the attorney meet me at the house to collect the money," Mary told him.

So just days after moving in, Mary and Madison had to move out.

Mary does have a job, but the scam took a big part of her savings.

With limited funds, and at the worst time to be a renter in the Valley, they're hoping to find a new place to live.

"I'm pretty much up a creek without a paddle," Mary stated.

Some things you should remember if you're looking to rent: never trust that a posting is legitimate and be wary of owners who cannot meet you and want an upfront deposit sent by a payment app.

So how did this scammer know the keyless door code?

The locks come with preset codes easily found online.

If you have one of these locks, change that code ASAP.

If you know of an affordable place for Mary and Madison, please email me and I'll pass it on.