Scammers using 'lock boxes' to trick and dupe renters

Let's face it, apartments can get a little cramped. And no one knows that better than Jazmine and Michael Windahl....

Posted: Jul 26, 2018 6:23 PM
Updated: Jul 26, 2018 6:23 PM

Let's face it, apartments can get a little cramped. And no one knows that better than Jazmine and Michael Windahl.

"When family comes over, there's hardly any place to sit," Michael tells 3 On Your Side. "We can't have birthday parties or get together or Sunday dinners."

The couple wants more room. So, they recently jumped on to the website Craigslist, put in parameters like number of bedrooms and maximum monthly rent and up popped up a home in Goodyear.

"It was in our price range," Jazmine said. "It was where we wanted to be. It wasn't far from our jobs. It was in a perfect area. Everything just seemed perfect."

Turns out, the home the Windahls were interested in has a lock box put in place by a legitimate company hired by property management. And, inside the lock box, a key to open the front door so you can look around.

It's an easy, high tech way property management companies are using these days so a leasing agent doesn't have to physically show a property.

But, this so-called easy way of showing rental property by using a lock box is causing a big problem. All a scammer has to know is that a rental home is using a lock box, and that can mean big money."

That's because the scammer has already called the lock box company and has gotten the code to enter the house.

When people like the Windahls come across the fake Craigslist ad and call the scammer, they think they're dealing with the real property management company.

"We came across one house and it was in our budget," Jazmine said. "Everything seemed okay. So, I text the guy and he text back saying it's still available and I said okay."

The scammer then provides the entry code that he's already obtained and the Windahls let themselves inside where they fall in love with the house.

After asking for a $1,600 security deposit, the Windahls then wire the bad guy all that money.

They think they just rented a home, only to find out they out later they were duped.

The lock box trick repeats itself over and over every time someone calls the scammer.

"I think it's horrible. Why would you do this to somebody? We put our full trust in you and you did us wrong."

If you're looking to rent a home, here are some red flags to look out for so you don't get tricked.

If rent is below market, the person never meets with you in person during the course of the rental transaction, or you're asked to wire money then it's a scam.

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