3OYS: Foreclosed homeowner scams potential renters

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Look around the house they're staying in, and you can quickly understand why Patricia Flower and her husband, Tim, are upset and disappointed. They're sleeping in a partially remodeled, two-car garage.

"It's crowded and it's cramped," Patricia Flower told 3 On Your Side. "It's not really home sweet home."

The Flowers' problem started when they found a North Phoenix home for rent.

According to Flower, the house was perfect and the man who owned it agreed to lease it to them for $750 a month. All he wanted was a $1,500 security deposit, which they gave him in cash.

But after the very first night they were at the home, Flower's husband answered a knock at the front door.

"He came back in about ten minutes later and he goes, 'Honey, we have a problem,' " Flower recalled.

Turns out, a second family was at the front door claiming they had handed over a deposit to the homeowner and were there to move into the house. And so was a third family because they too gave a deposit.

"I am angry and disappointed that someone would do this to people," Flower said of the homeowner.

But the homeowner didn't actually own the home. James D. Meyer gave the home up to foreclosure and handed it back over to the bank, according to court documents.

However, before he vacated the property, he advertised the house for rent and reportedly accepted security deposits from families like the Flowers.

"I was like, this can't happen. This is our fresh start," Flower said. "It's all the money we had saved and like tears started coming."

As a result, Flower, her husband and their three kids had to move in with her grandfather. And that's why they're living in grandpa's partially remodeled garage. It's a roof over their head, at least for now.

"I'm thankful to my grandpa for letting us stay here, but this is not at all what we envisioned," she said.

She says things are extremely cramped but they're surviving until they can save a security deposit for another home.

"It's home, all because of what James Meyer did to us," Flower said. "I am hurt a lot because he hurt my family, so that is the biggest part. It's disappointment that people would do this and then it's anger because of what happened."

Phoenix police tell 3 On Your Side that they are aware of the fraudulent rental activity and investigating the matter