FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A Cumberland County family needs a home after falling victim to an apparent rental house scam.
A woman who gave the name Tiffany Lewis rented a home on Chasewater Road in Cumberland County to Ariana Baxter. However, the property has been in foreclosure for nearly two years and the real property owners live out of state. The real property owners now want Baxter to vacate the property.
“It was like devastating because we got like 10 days to move our kids,” Baxter said.
The family has been renting the home from an apparent scammer since December 2021. They were hoping to renew their lease for another 12 months.
It was not until an incident more than a month ago that they realized they were being scammed.
“So, I’m upstairs and this guy just walks in the front door. He is like my friend owns this house and there is not supposed to be anybody in here,” Baxter said.
Weeks later, Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputies and the real owners showed up with a 10-day vacate notice. That’s when Baxter finally realized she had fallen victim to a scam.
“Her name was fake. The address she gave was fake,” Baxter said.
Baxter has not been able to reach Lewis who has a Charlotte address listed on the rental agreement. CBS 17 called the phone number listed on the lease and it was not in service.
“We are lower income or whatever and we are being targeted by people scamming. It’s unfortunate,” she said.
The family was paying more than $1,000 in rent each month to Lewis through PayPal and cash with receipts. They also gave a $1,100 security deposit.
The Better Business Bureau said rental scams are happening more often with foreclosed properties.
Experts advise people to check county property deeds to find out the real owner and check to see if realtors are licensed before renting or buying properties.
“We are actively looking for a place. But with the market and the way things are now it’s kind of hard,” Baxter said.
There is a realtor named Bobby Pattin who is buying the house out of foreclosure. He tells CBS 17 he’s planning to write the family a check to help them out on their search for a new home.
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating this case.