FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports

Kansas City woman warns others after losing nearly $2,000 in rental home scam

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Scammers continue to target people who are desperately looking for a home. Even though a local woman fell victim to the scam, she’s hoping her story will help someone else.

“I was just thinking, what if I would’ve moved my family into the house and then we wouldn’t have anywhere to go at all,” Mary Jones said.

Jones said she’s out nearly $2,000.

She recently paid money to lease a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home but said the whole time she was being scammed.

Jones said she was communicating with a man she met through Facebook Marketplace about leasing the home.

She and her daughter went to see the home in person for themselves and used a keypad at the house to get inside, but Jones never met the man she was in contact with.

“He told me if I go ahead and send him the money, then the house would be secured for me,” Jones said.

Jones was ready to seal the deal and sent the guy $1,055 for first month’s rent and $600 for a deposit through Venmo.

But the name on the Venmo account he gave her didn’t match who he said he was.

Jones said right after she sent him the cash, something didn’t feel right. She noticed a lease sign in the front yard.

“I called the number, and they said that there’s an application process, you have to do a background check and basically everything that you normally do to get a house,” Jones said.

Jones filed a report with Kansas City police. Officers said it’s important for people to pay attention to red flags. 

“I would be very wary of someone who is wanting to meet you at an offsite location or to take prepayment via online payment site such as Venmo or PayPal or something like that,” KCPD Sgt. Jake Becchina said. “Most reputable agencies still do business the old fashion way.”

It’s been a week since the incident happened, and Jones said she’s still is without her cash.

Even though she may never get her money back, she hopes this story helps someone else.

FOX4 reached out to the real estate agency that actually owns the home. A representative sent the following statement:

“We continue to work to proactively identify possible scammers so appropriate action can be taken to safeguard our current and prospective residents, and our communities. If an individual in one of our homes or attempting to lease one of our homes is affected, we strongly encourage them to contact local authorities to report the incident.

“We regularly update fraud prevention recommendations posted on our website and urge prospective residents to look for visible signage posted on all of our homes about safety best practices, where to find verified listings and how to spot a rental scam. As a matter of policy, we never advertise on Craigslist or Facebook, and never request payments via PayPal or other apps.

“Consumers should never sign a lease unless it has been provided by an official representative of the property management company, for a home clearly listed on that company’s website. We recommend that residents leasing a home be wary of rents listed for a lower price than is typical for the neighborhood, because scammers often create fake listings with significantly low rent amounts. If contacted by a landlord who states that he/she is out of the country, it is likely a scam.

“Consumers should never wire funds or submit payment via a payment app and should never distribute personal information such as a social security number or financial information such as bank account numbers. If approached by someone requesting any of this information, consumers should contact the local authorities to report the incident.”