Family's home put up for lease by mystery scammer

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by Jeremy Desel/ KHOU 11 and KHOU.com Staff

khou.com

Posted on June 17, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Updated Sunday, Jun 17 at 6:14 PM

HOUSTON—An unusual scheme has strangers making online listings for houses for rent when the people living in them have no idea.

"Who would do this to us? We didn’t do anything to anyone to warrant this," said Christine Long.

The Long’s realtor alerted them that something strange was going on when she got more than 20 calls about leasing the house and it’s not for rent.

"This person is posing as me, renting out this property for just an absurdly low price," said Patrick Long.

It seems like just a nuisance until someone shows up at the front door.

"My babysitter got a knock at the door with the kids here. She answered and let the couple in because they said Patrick Long said they could come by and check out the house," said Christine Long.

That couple turned out to be very helpful and handed over the emails with the mystery scammer.

"Who is this? This is a scam! Can’t everyone see that this is a scam? How could you rent a house inside the loop for so little with full utilities paid?" Christine Long said.

The scam involves instructions to send money in exchange for keys.

"Send a moneygram for deposit, and within 24 hours you will receive Home Keys. Paperwork, and receipt of your deposit payment," reads the e-mail from the scammer.

"There is a fake owner using the real owner’s name, so how do you know?" said Christine Long.

There is no sign of the false listings now.

Houston police took a report but there is no sign yet of anyone that’s actually lost money to the scam.

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