HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KWCH) It's not a new scam, but it's possibly one you've never heard of before. FactFinder 12 spoke with one quick-thinking woman who avoided falling for it and now, she wants to make sure others do the same.
For Maria Dyer, this started when she was in the market for a new place to live in Hutchinson. Searching the Internet, her daughter found a nice place at a decent price.
"My daughter, she came in and said there's this house for $1,000 (per month) on North Severence," Dyer says.
Dyer wasted no time contacting the number listed with the ad. She says the man who answered the call told her the property was still available for rent.
Unfortunately, the deal turned out to be too good to be true. The house listed is not actually for rent and the man trying to rent it doesn't even own the property.
"He told me that he had lived here and that his job had transferred him out and he wanted a family that would take good care of the house and treat it like their own," she says.
Dyer ended up sending quite a bit of personal information for what the man told her, was the rental application. Still, at this point there was nothing fishy with the deal.
That didn't last long. After telling her she was approved to rent the home, the man claiming to be the property's owner and claiming to have just moved from Hutchinson asked Dyer if the city had a Walmart.
"That's when it clicked. People from miles around know that in Hutchinson all there is is a Walmart," Dyer says. "You know, K-Mart wen out, Target's gone. He's gonna want me to wire him the money and I'm not doing that."
That's exactly what happened. The man asked Dyer to wire money and she did not follow that request.
Timothy Ferran actually rents the home listed in the ad Dyer answered. A couple weeks ago, someone else walked in his front door to check out the house. Not knowing about the fake ad listing his home as being available for rent led to a scary situation for Ferran and his wife.
"My wife's yelling and screaming. I come out of the bathroom and grab the guy and carry him right out the door onto the porch," Ferran says.
Scary, but no one was seriously injured. After speaking with Dyer, Ferran learned the false ad was still up. Fact Finder 12 called the number listed on the ad.
The man who answered had an accent making him difficult to understand. He said his name is Albert. In the conversation with FactFinder 12 investigator Alex Flippin, "Albert' tried to peddle the same story he did to Dyer and the man before her who walked into Ferran's home uninvited.
When asked for an opportunity to meet and maybe look at the house, "Albert" said he's renting the house out because he's out of state.
After a request to speak with the home's current renter and the actual homeowner, "Albert' said that wasn't possible and again claimed that he was the owner.
When confronted over the phone that it's now known he's operating a scam, Albert got more defensive before hanging up.
FactFinder 12 reported the listing as fraudulent. A check of property records shows nobody named Albert has ever owned the home on Severence.
The Better Business Bureau says if you're renting a property, never wire money to anyone. And never give out personal information, like your social security number, over the phone.