LINCOLN COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – In desperate need of housing, a Chandler family falls into a fraud. They paid hundreds for a home that’s not for rent, claiming a fake listing agent pulled out all the stops to pull off his ruse.
Vickie Lamb is not sure what’s next, as a red hot housing market spills into Lincoln County rent homes.
So when a family friend found a home reportedly on the market, she jumped at the opportunity.
“I didn’t want to move away from Chandler, but if I have to I have to,” she said. “Around here, you can’t find anything to rent, I’ve never seen it so bad. Everybody wants in this area!”
The man behind the rental deal was 32-year-old Cody Barnes.
With a $600 deposit, Vickie, her niece Lisa, her veteran husband and a seven-year-old grandchild packed up to move in.
But the key they were given, wouldn’t work.
“[The key] doesn’t go to anything; tried to get in the windows, everything I could,” said Vickie. “We had everything packed up, ready to go, then the bottom dropped out, found out [Cody] didn’t even own it.”
It’s a brazen spin on a classic scam. As housing heats up and eviction moratoriums lift, these rental frauds have risen as of late.
With prices too good to be true, families feel the need to act.
“We’ve actually seen an increase in this type of scam, whenever COVID really hit,” said Kitt Letcher, discussing a previous fake listing with In Your Corner. “It’s a way to make people rush the decision-making process, so they don’t do their homework.”
But Cody Barnes’ move was rather bold, given that he used his real name and reportedly even lives in nearby Wellston.
We found he was arrested just months ago, accused of selling iPhones online to a customer out of Texas, who claimed she paid $900 and never received the product.
When he’s not allegedly defrauding Oklahomans down on their luck, Cody can be tough to find.
News 4 stopped by his home, left voicemails and texted, but our requests for comment were not returned.
Meanwhile, Vickie’s housing situation is running out, and she tells our team she’s out of time.
“Broke my heart that someone could do that, take advantage of you that way, ‘specially when you’re older, retired, and then you have a child you’re trying to raise,” she said. “To take advantage of you that way, it’s terrible.”
There is late breaking news in this story. Just days ago, Cody Barnes was arrested in Luther, and now sits in the Oklahoma County Detention Center facing multiple unrelated charges.
Authorities say his crimes span jurisdictions, and are asking anyone with information on his dealings to come forward. Anonymous reporting is an option.
Vickie Lamb tells our team her family’s future is still up in the air. They’re now working with the VA, still trying to find a rent home.