A crime alert for people looking to rent a home: Henrico Police say just this month, two people were scammed out of money they put down for a rental home in eastern Henrico.
Investigators say the scam artist pretends to own the home in the 1800 block of Parlow Drive - but it's all a sham. NBC12 tracked down the actual owners of the home who have owned the property for years and are living in Hanover. They're in shock this has happened to them.
It started with a post on Craigslist. It advertised renting the home for about $400, including utilities. The problem was, whoever posted that ad was not the actual homeowner!
NBC12 found the couple who legally own the home. The husband, Keith Robinson, says he feels like a victim too.
"We don't understand why it's happening to us, but we're very upset over it, but there's nothing we can do," he said.
Robinson says he works with a real estate agent who manages the property. He can't believe a scam artist somehow got the information and posted it online.
"They just want to get money and disappear," says Robinson.
Police say two people fell for this scam on Parlow Drive. Robinson says the suspects pose as a husband and wife on a missions trip. They tell the victims to email an application and make a deposit via Western Union. In return, the couple promises to send a key to the house. But once the check is sent, that money is gone.
This isn't the first time a scam artist has targeted this area. It happened around the same time last year about two miles away at an apartment on Binford Lane, and several people became victims.
NBC12 investigated it last year and found the man in this case actually showed the place, then disappeared once victims gave him a deposit.
"We're trying to put a stop to this, we're watching the homes now real closely," says Elon Moyer, he is one of the neighborhood crime watch leaders and says police just gave them a sketch of the suspect in this case.
Right now, police say the scams do not appear to be related, but they are investigating.
The rental agency managing the Parlow Drive home says scams like this are happening more often. They recommend never putting money up front for a place. They also recommend taking a tour of a place before any rental investment.
Police also want to remind people you should never wire money because of a Craigslist posting. It's a warning that is posted on the website.
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:00:28 GMT
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