3 On Your Side

Rental scam continues to lure in victims

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Tania Niblett and her husband want to downsize. So, they recently put their home on the market.

"It actually sold in 3 days,” Niblett told 3 On Your Side. “We did some serious remodeling in here."

Needing a place live now, the couple turned to the Internet to find a house to rent. And, according to Niblett, she came across a home that seemed just right.

“Well, compared to other rentals on the market, that house is perfect. If you look at the backyard and see the pool, it's immaculate," she said.

So, Niblett called the number and the person on the other end told her to go to the home and check it out. She did, but when she arrived, there was no one at the house as promised. So, Niblett contacted the so-called property management company which told her not to worry. In fact, he said, go around the back of the house and look through the windows. And, if she liked it, he told her to call him back.

Niblett says she reluctantly followed those instructions.

"It was very uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. It felt like I was trespassing."

The home was even better than she thought. It was vacant and really clean, So, Niblett called back to say she wanted it.

That's when she was told to fill out a rental application which required all kinds of personal information like Social Security numbers and dates of birth. She was then told to deposit $1,780 in cash into the property management company's Wells Fargo bank account.

"So, I’m thinking at the time that he's associated with Wells Fargo. You know, when you think Wells Fargo, you think you trust Wells Fargo. There wouldn't be a scam going through Wells Fargo," Niblett said.

But it was a scam. And here's how it works: The scammer finds a house that is legitimately for sale and vacant just like the one Niblett looked at.

The scammer then pretends to be the owner, or property management company and posts that very house on the Internet as "For Rent.” It’s sometimes listed for an amount that's pretty attractive in order to lure in victims.

The con-man then sits back and waits for unsuspecting people like Niblett to fall in love with the house and then asks for a security deposit to be put into his personal bank account.

“So, the bottom line here is you deposited money into the bad guy's account not knowing he's really a bad guy?"

“Correct,” she replied. “And he took advantage of us absolutely."

Not only are they out $1,800, Niblett is now worried about all the personal information they provided on that fictitious rental application.

If you’re looking to rent, always meet the owner or property management company in person and get them to physically show you around the inside of the home.

If you’re asked to either wire a security deposit or asked to deposit cash into a bank account, you’re most likely caught up in a scam.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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