Most people looking to rent a home would never expect something like this to happen, so make sure to do your research.
Find out the name of the property owner through county records and compare it to his or her state ID.
Also, if there is a realty sign in the yard, call the number to make sure that the person there is really their agent.
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Investigators are looking for an elderly woman and a possible accomplice to who they say conned an Augusta woman into giving them hundreds of dollars toward a rental home.
They say the woman used a stolen identity and forged federal documents to convince the victim she was the owner of a home for rent.
Federal officials are now involved as the case continues to grow.
Almost anyone would have been fooled, unfortunately.
"I was looking for a home for me and my kids," said Consuela Maloyd.
Maloyd was the one to fall for it.
"This particular house, I loved it ... beautiful pictures, great home/house," she said.
An ad on Craigslist brought her to the home on Birnam Place. A sweet-looking older woman, who identified herself as Moriya Ariff, and an elderly man she called her husband met Maloyd with the key.
"She wrote me out a receipt, as well as a lease and issued me two keys," Maloyd said.
It all seemed very legit, especially when "Ariff" showed Maloyd her federal IDs. Maloyd snapped a picture on her cellphone of the IDs, which came in very handy to investigators a few days later.
"Came back a few days later trying to switch the power over and she ran into the real estate agent that represents the actual owner of that house who told her that she didn't really rent the house legitimately," said Investigator Dan Ferrel.
Ferrel says the real Ariff is a much younger woman who used to live in the rental property. A few years ago, someone stole her identity.
As far as the numbers of the passport and military ID go, they match up with a retired colonel out of Wisconsin. Ferrell says the scam artist Photoshopped her picture along with the name onto the colonel's documents.
As far as the key goes, he says the real estate company may have unknowingly provided it to the scammers.
"They hired a smaller firm here in town who put the keys in a lock box that hangs on the door with a little keypad on it," Ferrel said.
To get the code, he says all you had to do was say you wanted to see the house. This was just one of many steps that led to this very elaborate scheme.
Investigators say the elderly couple could be tied to an international scam.
If you recognize the woman in the picture, contact the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.