12 OYS: Online home rental scam nets $300 from unsuspecting renter

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday Sept. 3, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It was the picture perfect house for Henry Hill and his young family.

"We were looking for a nice home. I really was looking for a home with a car garage," said Hill.

When Hill found a 3 bedroom, 2 bath rental house in Hephzibah on Craigslist, for just $700 a month, he jumped at the offer.

"I didn't want anybody else to get this good catch," said Hill.

He said the person who claimed to own the home was in Tennessee doing the Lord's work.

"He said he was a pastor and the way he was talking he was talking like a pastor, so I thought that I was trusting in the Lord," said Hill.

He said he went on faith, and as instructed wired money through Western Union, a $300 deposit, with a promise the keys and lease would be sent FedEx overnight.

But instead of keys, Hill said he received a text message from the supposed owner claiming that he had been detained and would need $700 for the first months rent before mailing the keys.

Realizing it was all a big hoax, Hill called us.

"I contacted News 12 because they always On Your Side, because they help you and they for the people," said Hill.

We did some investigating online, and found another ad from early August on Craigslist for that same home. This time the rent was $800 a month. And the same property was advertised on Zilllow.com, an online site for buying, selling and renting homes.

"If I don't see the person first off, right in front of me, I'm just not going to do it," said Hill.

He said he wanted to share his story hoping no one else falls for this scam. Meanwhile, a neighbor told us that the actual owner is renting out the property through an agency, while he is away in the military.

A couple of red flags to look out for when renting a home. You should always request a walk through of the property. Also, never wire money to someone you have never met or do not trust.

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