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Family warning of local rent-to-own fraud attempt

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A family had their hopes at the American dream ruined by a man who has previously been convicted of obtaining property by false pretense.

“We were really excited to get it, the kids are like, ‘Oh we get our first upstairs house,’” recalled Jennifer Whiteside.

Whiteside and her family currently live in Asheboro, but they wanted to do something for their future and the future of their children. So, when they found a rent-to-own home on Waughtown Street in Winston-Salem in a Craigslist listing, they acted on it.

The family tells FOX8 the man who claimed to be able to rent-to-own the property to them was Dennis Hurt. They told Hurt they could put $1,500 down on the home, which they say they paid to him in money orders.

“We just wanted something that we could own and this man just took our money, he tricked us,” Whiteside said.

The family said they waited weeks for a contract after they gave Hurt the money orders, which he cashed. They eventually received the contract, but come March, realized something wasn’t quite right.

Whiteside said she looked up the property and found that it was listed in a name other than Hurt’s. It was then when she contacted Winston-Salem police.

Police tell FOX8 that the Whiteside’s case in an ongoing investigation, but cannot confirm nor deny that Hurt is a suspect in an investigation. However, they did say in a hypothetical situation, should they be investigating a case of this manner, the suspect could be charged with obtaining property by false pretense.

Hurt did eventually contact the family and provided them with an agreement, which basically said that Hurt would refund the $1,500 as long as the family agreed not to pursue any charges against him.

Since the family needs the money they decided to sign the document, meaning if Hurt repays them, it is no longer a criminal case.

FOX8 contacted Hurt, who gave a statement saying, “The Whitesides are receiving a full refund and this issue is resolved.” However, at the time of this writing, the Whitesides said they had still not received the refund.

Hurt has a history of convictions out of Surry and Forsyth counties, including embezzlement, obtaining a signature by false pretense and obtaining property by false pretense. He is currently listed as an absconder from his probation and the district over his probation says they have a warrant out for his arrest.

“People need to be aware of him,” Whiteside said.

Winston-Salem police Det. D.C. Clark said there are other cases similar to these circumstances out there. The department wants people to make sure they are dealing with a legitimate business and to always be vigilant when dealing with people they do not know.

If anyone knows of Hurt’s whereabouts, they are asked to contact Judicial District 21 Manager Sherri Cook at (336) 761-2424.