ELK GROVE, Calif. (KTXL) — Three disabled men in Elk Grove were scammed over a rental property that was posted on Craigslist.
Caretaker Jonathan Jones and his two roommates said they needed a home in a time of urgency.
They found a house in Elk Grove by Shelby Street and Bruceville Road last month on Craigslist that was posted by someone who claimed to rent out the property.
“We were doing this in good faith that this guy, whoever he was, was the actual landlord,” Jones said.
Jones said they were told to pay upfront before signing the rental agreement.
“He was like, ‘I’m going to need $1,000 to take it off the market and once I get that all set,’ those were his words, then we could go onto the next stage,” Jones told FOX40.
They were asked for their photo IDs and other personal information without meeting in person, a process Jones and the others thought was normal during COVID-19.
“Any other time we’d go out and look for a place, normally they have a little ‘for rent’ sign on the door or something that you can call and meet the person,” Jones said. “But now everyone is panicked, everybody’s scared, no one wants to show up at the home. So we’re thinking OK, this is just the new thing, we have to do everything via internet now.”
Several more red flags came next.
“When we got here the lock had to be cut off,” Jones said.
Only five days after they moved in, a local realtor came by with a home inspector who was just as surprised to see them there and had to give them the bad news.
“She’s like, ‘Yeah, you did all the paperwork, you guys did all the footwork, but you were scammed,'” Jones said.
The property was still listed as of Wednesday for rent but at a lower price point and by the same alleged landlord.
FOX40 tried to call him Wednesday afternoon. He claimed, off-camera, that he did own the home. The man hung up after saying, “I said I would pay them back!”
Jones told FOX40 the so-called landlord contacted him a few days ago saying he was sorry and would send them back their money through FedEx.
The home is currently owned by a national brokerage company and is pending sale for just under $500,000.
“They tell you that they understand, but you’re not going to understand until you’re in it,” Jones said. “You’re not going to understand what it is to be here in a lovely home, with a nice swimming pool, a nice garden, and being told, ‘No, you need to move because it’s not for you.'”
A police report has been filed with the Sacramento Police Department.