You Ask. We Investigate. Housing Scam?

Erin Johnson says she and her family went from living on a Property in Pinyon Pines to living in a tent, separated from their children in a matter of days, “I had to leave my kids with my mom for a while because we have nowhere to go.”

She says their nightmare started when a man overheard them saying they were looking for a place to rent he told them it just so happened he had a place nearby that he was looking to get rid of and they could lease to own it for $10,000.

“We gave him $5,500, which is all the money in the world that we had and he drew up this lease paperwork,” she says.

She showed us documents that look like an unsigned lease and a receipt, she says she paid in cash. She says they moved in, got cable installed and were living happily there with their children and pets.

But, eight days later the property’s rightful owner showed up.

“And said, ‘well what are you doing here?'” she says adding she explained they leased the property and showed him the documents.

She says he then later had them escorted off the property without their belongings but did say he would work with them but it wasn’t enough time for her so she was afraid he would get rid of her property.

We reached out to the owner he did not want to be identified. But he says he was in disbelief to get to his home for a visit with his son to find strangers living there.

“It’s a tragic situation because she has a couple kids and it’s you know a bad situation, I couldn’t believe the story,” he says.

He says a property worth $200,000 would never be sold for $10,000 and that should have been a red flag for the.

Still, he says even though this is not his fault, he will work with them to get them their belongings back, “I don’t want their property I‘m not going to throw their property in the trash or anything, I am working to find someone to move their stuff out pack it up and give it to them.”

The hope this story helps them and others.

“Maybe it’ll be like a lesson for somebody else, but if anything we’re trying to get some help we don’t know where to go,” says Johnson.

A way to prevent getting scammed out of money when leasing a property is to always work with a reputable real estate agent who can look into the property’s history and owner.

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