ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) Imagine moving into your new home and then finding out that the property owner is not who you thought he was.

On Monday, Better Call Harry exposed a nationwide scam targeting the American Homes For Rent. The company owns thousands of homes, but as Harry found out, has nothing to say.

Marissa Whiting is a property manager for American Homes For Rent. Her employer owns more than 50,000 homes, making them easy targets for guys like this.

"Hold on a minute I'll get you the code...great!"

The man on the phone is a criminal who steals the company's listings and reposts them on Craigslist posing as the owner. To get his cash, he goes to American Homes For Rent's website, then clicks on a link that says 'Let Yourself In.' He then gives victims the code to the lockbox on the front door.

Jennifer Andrews fell for it. Once she got the code, she took the key, signed a phony lease and moved the family in. About a week later American Homes For Rent figured it out.

"She was like ma'am I'm sorry you've been scammed, sorry for the inconvenience but you have to vacate the premises," explained Andrews about her conversation with an American Homes For Rent employee. "I then told her no ma'am, we have to go to court."

Oh, it went to court.

"If it's true what Ms. Andrews says, that's very unfortunate," said Cumming.

Here's the thing, American Homes For Rent has known about this scam for years, but has done little to stop it. The scam  targeted Hurricane Michael evacuees who moved to Atlanta from Florida. When American Homes For Rent found out they were not surprised.

Same thing happened to Ciarra McDonnel. She moved in and had to move out the next day.

All three victims said there were no fraud alert warning stickers on the door like the one we found at one home. They all said if there had been, they never would have moved in.

"You know, it's hard y'all can't just put somebody out when you all know people are scamming your homes and y'all not doing nothing about it," said Andrew's daughter.

Although the judge sympathized, he ordered the family out.

So what did the property manager have to say? No enough.

We've tried to get comments by phone, email, we even called the attorney representing American Homes For Rent in the hearings. No one wants to talk about this scam, one that could easily be prevented. We're not giving up, we just found victim number four. 

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Better Call Harry: Exposing lockbox rental scam

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(1) comment


My friend was a victim, she was scammed last month. Same property management company and they wouldn’t do anything to prevent this from happening again. It’s sickening

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