GRANDVIEW, Mo. – More people are speaking up following a FOX4 report regarding an alleged rental scam in the metro.
On Monday, FOX4 told viewers about Joshua and Ashley Easterly, who said they were shown a house in Grandview, signed a lease and gave $2,000 to Heather Irvin, a woman they thought owned the property.
On Tuesday, two more families said they'd also been scammed by Irvin after seeing the East 119th Street home on Facebook Marketplace.
“I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt that it’s not a scam, and when I saw that it was, reality hit,” Stacy Johnson said.
Johnson said Irvin showed her husband and daughter the home on March 10. She said they signed a lease, handed Irvin a $2,000 deposit, which included first month’s rent, and were told they could move in after a crew cleaned the property.
Irvin even handed them a set of keys, which turned out to be fake, according to Johnson.
“At one point in time, my husband did message her and said, ‘I hope this isn’t a scam,’ and she said, ‘No, it’s not,’” Johnson recalled.
When moving day came, Johnson said Irvin was nowhere to be found.
“To see the disappointment on my 14-year-old daughter’s face is what gripes me the most,” Johnson said. “It takes a cold-hearted person to be able to do that and then not even admit she did it.”
William Pease said his wife gave Irvin a $1,000 deposit but admits they never got a walk-through of the house.
“We were so desperate to get a place to move that we just overlooked everything,” Pease said.
Pease said once they gave Irvin the money, it became hard to reach her.
“It was just one thing after another,” Pease said. “It’s ‘my family members are dead’, ‘I’m at funeral home’ or ‘I’ve had bleeding, and I’m at the hospital.’
The Easterly and Johnson families both signed what they thought were legitimate leases, which show a signature reading "Heather Irvin." A similar signature could be found on a deposit receipt the Pease said Irvin gave them.
“I’m not going to stop until this woman is brought to justice because this is wrong,” Pease said.
FOX4 reached out to Irvin again on Tuesday. She said the accusations against her are not true.
The Grandview Police Department confirmed that they are looking into two possible fraud complaints against Irvin, but would not comment on the investigation.
“If the fraud’s perpetuated on property in Grandview, we will take the initial report, at the very least, and either investigate it on our end or forward it to the proper agency,” Sgt. Martin Studdard of the Grandview Police Department said.
Studdard said in many fraud cases, victims can sometimes get their money back.
“If they are criminally liable, the judge can award restitution,” Studdard said. “If they take the civil route, a civil judge can also grant restitution.”
Studdard recommended residents do their research on landlords before handing them money. He suggested Jackson County residents use this tool, which identifies who owns a particular parcel.
FOX4 reached out to one of Irvin's relatives who did not want to be identified but said, “We are an honest family, and I wish she would come clean if she is guilty of scamming these people.”
Irvin has not been charged with a crime.