Single mom of 3 loses $ 900 in rental scam

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COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Virginia – A single mother of three, desperate to find a home for her family, was scammed out of nearly $ 1,000 while trying to rent a house in Colonial Heights.

Victoria Newsome told CBS 6 Problem Solvers that she found an ad for an attractive and affordable home on Facebook Marketplace detailing an available rental where her children attend school.

She contacted the “owner”, paid an application fee, and received an approval letter via email. The alleged landlord then called her to work to urge her to pay the deposit immediately.

“He called me and told me there was someone else ready to pour cash on it. I was at work, so I was like, ‘Please hold it for me. Honestly, I need this place, ”Newsome recalls.

She needed a new place for her family by Monday, so she acted quickly.

Instead of sending the owner her bank details, he convinced her to send $ 900 by gift card.

Now Newsome has admitted the pullback is 20/20.

“I put money on the gift cards and sent him the gift cards assuming we were going to meet on Thursday to sign the contract,” she recalls. “When I got there Thursday I waited about 40 minutes and he never showed up.”

His calls and texts went unanswered. In fact, the phone number she was using to contact the tenant was no longer in service.

A neighbor told Newsome that the tenant’s name did not match the actual owner of the property.

Brenda Rogers, who lives near the property in Colonial Heights, told CBS 6 that she saw four different people with the same rental ad in hand drive there in the hopes of renting the house.

“One of the photos they showed me was three or four years ago because I didn’t even have solar panels on my house and it still shows my house,” Rogers explained.

Rogers said the Newsome story broke his heart.

“I am very sorry for her, and I hope that anyone gets caught,” she said. “All I want to see is justice.”

Newsome has since started a GoFundMe fundraiser in hopes of getting their money back.

Leslie Blackwell, director of public affairs at the Better Business Bureau in Central Virginia, said reports of scams doubled over the year.

“Scammers love to put you in this situation of making a hasty decision because it’s usually going to be bad,” Blackwell explained.

She warned of another major red flag after reviewing Newsome’s case.

“She paid with gift cards. That’s a big no-no, ”Blackwell said. “Nine times out of 10 it’s going to be a scam. “

Often, crooks encourage their victims to pay using eBay, Google Play, Target, iTunes, and Amazon gift cards. Newsome paid in American Express gift cards.

Newsome said it was likely the ad was duplicated on other similar rental sites.

“Often what happens, we see these scammers go out and duplicate a Zillow ad,” Blackwell explained. “They will use the same image. They will use the description. They use exciting words like great location, lots of amenities, low prices.

A listing of the property on Wakefield Avenue in Colonial Heights was seen on several websites Tuesday afternoon.

“I should have said, ‘Hey listen, if you need the money, I can meet you after work or some other time. I just can’t do it right now, ”Newsome said.

Newsome, who triumphed after several health issues and illnesses, worked hard to earn a down payment on a house for his family. She was in tears when she described feeling exploited and left behind.

“I operated out of fear,” she said.

Blackwell urged victims of scams to contact law enforcement and report the scam to their local BBB office.


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