Woman faces felony charges in house-renting scam in Hanover

Updated: Nov. 3, 2017 at 6:49 PM EDT
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HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - A woman in King William County is facing three felony charges after being accused of scamming potential renters out of nearly $5,000.

A couple tells NBC12 that 21-year-old Megan Simpson said a property in Hanover County belonged to her family and was available to rent.

Three different renters gave Simpson hundreds of dollars in deposit and rental fees, believing they'd move into the house, according to court documents. But when the families showed up on the same day to move in, they say Simpson was nowhere to be found.

Simpson's attorney, Dana Tapper, tells NBC12 that investigators arrested the wrong person, and that Simpson is a victim of mistaken identity. Tapper says she's confident Simpson will be exonerated.

"She took all of our money, every last dollar we had," said Karim Hughes, who says he gave Simpson more than $1,600 for a security deposit and first month's rent for the home off King William Road.

Hughes says he and his girlfriend spotted a Craigslist ad for the house, which Simpson claimed she inherited from family.

"She said it was her and her brother's house. They inherited it from her grandmother. It's been in the family since 1836," said Hughes of the conversation.

Hughes says Simpson even had a key to show them inside the home, back in September. Hughes filled out an application. He says Simpson also claimed to have run a background check on him. Hughes and his girlfriend gave Simpson $1,650 in cash and signed a lease in a parking lot, where the group agreed to meet.

"She said, 'All right. You guys can move in Saturday, and I'll give you your copy of the lease Saturday,'" recalled Hughes.

Hughes says when his girlfriend showed up to the home with a trailer of belongings, two other families were there as well.

"Very angry. I was upset," said Hughes of his reaction when his girlfriend informed him the house was promised to two other families, and that Simpson was not the true owner of the home.

Investigators say Simpson is a former tenant of the property herself, who was evicted for not paying rent. Court documents say Simpson attempted to rent the property to three people, taking a total of $4,925 in security deposits and rent.

"We're stuck in a really bad situation, right now," said Hughes, who is now living in a hotel with his girlfriend.

Simpson is currently out on bond. She is due in court in January. Tapper says Simpson and one of the other alleged victims listed in the court documents will be speaking with NBC12 soon, to give more clarity on the situation.

Consumer experts advise renters to always check out any person claiming to rent a home or sublet an apartment. Ask to see the deed to the property, or the lease and their credentials. Be wary of anyone insisting on cash.

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