Valley couple barely avoid rental scam

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Richard Chandler's family recently has gotten a little bit bigger.

"Just a month ago, we had a baby girl," he said.
As a result, Chandler and his wife decided it was time to find a larger place to live. So, like many people, Chandler hit the Internet and he found what he thought was the perfect home to rent.
 
"It was a house that was exactly what we were looking for and it was really, really nice," he said. "It was a historic home that had been totally redone."
 
Chandler immediately contacted the homeowner, or at least the person he thought was the homeowner, and asked questions about that historic Mesa home.

"They said that they had just recently moved out of state for husband’s job and they were looking to rent the place, and sent us a rental application," Chandler explained.
 
Chandler was told if he wanted to secure the home for only $800 a month, then he and his wife needed to put down money right away to hold it. And since the owners reportedly were out of state, Chandler was given specific directions on how to get the money to them.
 
"They were really pushy about getting the deposit as soon as possible," he said. "They wanted us to go to a Walmart and send it via MoneyGram."
 
MoneyGram is no doubt one of the easiest ways to transfer money. But, it's also one of the most common vehicles that scammers utilize to steal money. MoneyGram even warns consumers, "Do not send money to someone you do not know."
 
Why? Because the moment you send the money it transfers and you have little recourse to get it back. And that's exactly what happened to Chandler -- almost.
 
"I started Googling the names, the actual address of the house and their phone numbers, and that's when I realized it was definitely a scam," he said.
 
It turns out the so-called homeowners didn't own that home at all and Chandler figured that out as soon as he sent a MoneyGram for about $1,000. He immediately contacted MoneyGram and canceled the money transfer.
 
It's a good thing he did because if he had waited just a minute or two longer, it might have been too late.
 
"Infuriating and frustrating that I had actually let it get to the point of having sent the MoneyGram," Chandler said. "A little dumb on my part to let it go that far."