12 On Your Side: Historic Aiken horse farm targeted by rental scam

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email


News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Jessica Cartin says she asked specific questions about the property and when she did not get the right answers, she knew the man on the other end of the phone was a fraud.

Cartin is looking for a new place to call home. "I was on Google and I typed in homes for rent in Aiken, South Carolina," says Cartin. When she spotted a two-bedroom cottage on Zillow.com for $699 a month, she was chomping at the bit to take a look.

Of course it was in a prime location, Internet, cable all utilities included as far as electricity and water,"says Cartin.

Before calling the number on the ad, Cartin says she went to look at the property and discovered it was a horse of a different color. It turns out the property, Old Buckland Barn, is a sprawling 1.6 acre historic property in Aiken's equestrian community. A true trifecta.

"Twenty stalls to put my horses, an apartment and a two bedroom cottage," says Cartin. But another problem, the ad did not mention it was a horse ranch. Cartin does not own horses. Cartin says while checking out the property she discovered it was already being rented out.

"He said that the house was available and I said is it ready to move in and he said yeah," says Cartin. "I asked him is it a paved road or a dirt road and he didn't know." That is when instincts told her to hold her horses.

"Apparently he had no idea that someone was living there because it wasn't his it was a scam," says Cartin. Feeling her oats she decided to reign in the con artist. She says the scammer eventually bolted, hanging up on her.

She suspects he was after her money and personal information. "Probably both he said lets fill out an application and once your approved well go from there."

Cartin says she was too smart for this con artist and she is hoping others don't put the cart before the horse when they see an ad that is too good to be true. "Just be weary of what your looking at," says Cartin.

And just because a person has a key to a property, it does not mean they own it. In Chicago scammers changed the locks on vacant properties to con folks into believing they own the property.

Meanwhile Aiken real estate agent Jane Page Thomson says if you are trying to buy or rent a property go through a licensed realtor whose credentials can be checked with your state's licensing board.

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