YUKON, Okla. (KFOR) – Coming in from more than 1,200 miles away, Julia Gilkinson said she thought she would be starting a new life in the Sooner State.
“It seemed awesome because it was the first person to say yes,” Gilkinson said about renting a home.
Looking at a rent home in Yukon, Gilkinson said she was in a hurry to get moved in.
Her husband is still in Pennsylvania getting everything taken care of to move away. They also have four children.
Now, moving into a home seems like a far fetch after being scammed.
“We saved a whole bunch of money and now we’re out most of that money,” she said.
She found the offer on Facebook. The voice on the other end of the line was claiming to be the landlord she had to rent through.
The person sent her a rental application and even a lease agreement.
Gilkinson ended up putting just over $1,200 down on the house.
When it came time to move in, things went south.
“When I went to go make my last payment, he got kind of weird about it,” she said.
Gilkinson said the person used every excuse not to finalize the deal, citing security system issues in the house and more.
“It’s pretty rough,” Gilkinson said.
According to Gilkinson, the property management company told the family there’s nothing they can do.
Now, she’s stuck at her brother-in-law Joshua Woodworth’s house, who said he did some investigating of his own.
He called the same number Gilkinson called, and the person directed him to look at another home.
“Everything seemed very above board,” Woodworth said.
However, the plans wouldn’t go through.
“He actually canceled on me last minute,” he said.
Kitt Letcher with the Better Business Bureau said third party vendors like the app rently, used in this case, let potential renters view homes on their own.
“If you had enough of the right credentials to be able to utilize their website from a property management perspective, absolutely you could scam somebody out of money,” she said.
Here’s how it works. The property management companies that use this app generally have lockboxes with the keys in them. You put the lockbox number into the app, it sends you a code to open the lockbox and you can go look around. Gilkinson said she was able to tour the home.
“I went inside, and they were able to give me a number for the lock box to get in,” Gilkinson said about the scammer.
Letcher said the Rently website has lots of advice on what to look for when it comes to scammers and is quite thorough.
However, she added that the problem is just too hard to stop completely.
“There are loopholes and cracks in most every system,” she said.
Gilkinson said the management company for the home told them this wasn’t the first time this has happened.
Her brother-in-law Joshua Woodworth had his wife text the same number and the person tried to talk to her about another property as well.
Real Property Management Resources says it is taking steps to warn other potential renters of the scam.
“Just as your office has done in this pandemic to adhere to social distancing habits to protect your staff and clients we looked to ‘Rently’ to help us allow potential tenants to view properties on their own. We felt that using Rently was an excellent option during this unprecedented time, as most property management companies are. Once we heard about this scam we immediately contacted Rently to work with us to stop the scammer from taking advantage of people looking at our properties to rent. We identified the scammer’s phone number and recently canceled his account and blocked it,” an email to KFOR from Real Property Management Resources read. “To try to warn potential renters of this scam, our company has taken additional steps to inform anyone viewing our properties. I have attached a copy of this notice with this email. As you can see we post the actual rent amount so that the viewer will know what the rent actually is and that we only accept payment through our companies secure website.”