Woman says she lost $500 in rental home scheme

In a desperate search for a new home, a local woman says someone pretending to be a renter swindled her for $500....

Posted: Jun 14, 2018 8:25 AM
Updated: Jun 14, 2018 8:25 AM

In a desperate search for a new home, a local woman says someone pretending to be a renter swindled her for $500.

Heather Valdez says it started when she saw a post on Facebook Marketplace advertising a three-bedroom, two-bathroom rental home in a neighborhood just off Ocean View Ave.

The price? Only $600 a month for a home across the street from the beach.

"It looked like a good deal. I messaged the person and asked them if it's still available. They told me it was," said Valdez.

Valdez says her daughters were robbed at gunpoint in her current neighborhood. She is looking to move and wanted to find a new situation quickly.

According to Valdez, the person on the other end of the message, Kimberly, said she lived in Blacksburg, Virginia, and had the house key there, but if Valdez wanted the home, she said she could check out the outside.

Valdez saw the home and liked it, so she asked about signing a lease. She tells News 3, Kimberly wanted first month's rent first, which could be paid in person several hours away in Blacksburg or through PayPal. Valdez says she took the second option.

"I didn't want to go to Blacksburg, but they created a sense of urgency for me to pay the deposit so no one would get it before me," said Valdez. "I went to follow the PayPal link and it wasn't working. I thought it was something on my side so the person said other tenants would use a MoneyPak card that's refillable."

Valdez says she purchased a MoneyPak card, which are known to be used in various scams, and put the maximum $500 on it.

"They told me a time to meet me at the house that I was going to rent (at 10 p.m.) to give me the keys and sign the lease. I went there and found out that the real owner didn't know anything about the house being for rent. It's for sale and they didn't know what I was talking about," she said.

After that incident, Valdez she says filed a police report and messaged Kimberly, which didn't go through. News 3 called a phone number Valdez says Kimberly provided and also reached out via email to no response.

Police told Valdez she was scammed.

"I couldn't believe that I fell for it," she told News 3. "After I paid that we had only $100 left for the week. That's gas for [my husband], gas for me, food for all of us."

Local real estate broker Tim Gifford says it's a scam that's been around for a while: People will swipe pictures from real estate websites and post them to Craigslist, Facebook and other social media passing it off as their own properties.

"If it's too good to be true, it generally is," he said.

Gifford says red flags in this case include Valdez being unable to see the inside of the home except through pictures and the lack of a credit check.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 514171

Reported Deaths: 10285
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34920557
DeSoto33270432
Hinds32652642
Jackson24876391
Rankin22516404
Lee16366245
Madison14932283
Jones14129247
Forrest13785260
Lauderdale12279324
Lowndes11314193
Lamar10663140
Pearl River9720244
Lafayette8855143
Hancock7839132
Washington7553169
Oktibbeha7216138
Monroe7036179
Pontotoc7003109
Warren6872178
Panola6768135
Neshoba6732210
Marshall6686142
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Union640898
Pike5933156
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Lincoln5533136
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Prentiss505385
Tippah492783
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Scott478199
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Tate4765117
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Yazoo456692
Simpson4554117
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Winston317892
Chickasaw316167
Clay312578
Clarke301295
Calhoun285949
Holmes271889
Smith269452
Yalobusha244247
Tallahatchie232053
Greene224749
Walthall221866
Lawrence219141
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster206248
Noxubee188743
Montgomery181857
Carroll174941
Jefferson Davis173843
Tunica163339
Benton153139
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134439
Humphreys132139
Franklin126029
Quitman107628
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845761

Reported Deaths: 16119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161862004
Mobile742411381
Madison53315732
Shelby38351369
Baldwin38104589
Tuscaloosa36052641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25590263
Calhoun22598518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20026518
Marshall18790316
Houston17741425
St. Clair16904358
Limestone16153219
Cullman16067303
Elmore15912294
Lauderdale14991306
Talladega14209299
DeKalb12985269
Walker12067380
Blount10729192
Autauga10526157
Jackson10170194
Coffee9425192
Colbert9341208
Dale9024192
Tallapoosa7273201
Russell708865
Chilton7042170
Escambia6956143
Covington6943195
Franklin6338108
Chambers5785142
Marion5413130
Dallas5295209
Pike5123109
Clarke484886
Lawrence4831129
Winston4780110
Geneva4643136
Bibb434594
Barbour369980
Butler3439100
Marengo342393
Monroe337466
Randolph334867
Pickens333988
Fayette330085
Henry320766
Hale318489
Cherokee318363
Crenshaw260777
Washington256952
Cleburne254560
Lamar251953
Clay251169
Macon245064
Conecuh193162
Coosa185547
Lowndes178268
Wilcox177638
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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