MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Walking their dog around their Mesa Apartment complex is common for Jahn Lambert and his fiancé Lynn Delcampo. But while being outside is great, they say they have outgrown their small and cramped apartment. So, they recently got online and came across a rental house that caught their eye.

"It was amazing, absolutely amazing," Lambert said.

Lambert acknowledges he has a checkered past, so rental options are extremely limited. But the so-called owner of the rental house, who was actually a scammer, said it wasn't a problem at all. Delcampo went on to say, "I was so excited."

The scammer who posted the ad texted them a code to access the lockbox on the front door. After going in and liking what they saw, the couple agreed to send an electronic deposit.

"$1,825 is what we paid," Lambert said.

Lambert and Delcampo eagerly moved into their new rental house and began to unpack. Then according to Delcampo, the unthinkable happened.

"When we moved in, I was elated, and then the following day after we moved in, somebody knocked on the door, and my heart just broke. I was outside in tears."

"We both were. The whole situation was really traumatizing. I'm still not over it," Delcampo said.

An inspector for the actual property owner showed up that day and told the couple they must have been duped by someone posing as the homeowner, and as a result, Lambert said they had to vacate the premises.

"It was devastating. It was absolutely devastating."

It's a common scam where the con-man finds a home for rent online, then takes those legitimate pictures and re-posts them as his own rental house. For now, the couple is back in their 2-bedroom apartment. Lambert says they missed the warning signs.

"It was a situation we wanted so bad we missed the warning signs, or maybe we wanted it so badly we didn't pay attention to the warning signs.

If you're looking to rent a home and you never physically meet the owner or property manager, and then you're asked to send a security deposit, you're most likely getting yourself involved in a scam," Lambert said.

As for the couple, their banks managed to return $1,300 out of the $1,825 deposit that they sent and may get the rest.

 

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