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Three families try to move into occupied Colorado Springs home after falling for scam

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) —  On July 1, Ron and Susan Ford were Colorado Springs’ most desirable roommates. 

Three separate families showed up to their home with belongings in tow. Each though they were renting out one of the Fords’ bedrooms. 

“They were told we had a mother-in-law suite. So that’s what they were expecting." 

Susan ford | homeower

But the Fords never listed a room for rent. The victims had been communicating with a scammer who ripped off real photos of the Fords’ home from sites like Zillow and RedFin. Unfortunately, the victims had to come face-to-face with the real homeowners to make that realization.

“They were so convinced that they were moving in, that we were receiving some of their mail and packages that they had ordered online,” said Ford.

One family made the five-hour trek from Albuquerque with plans to start a new job and new life in Colorado Springs. Two of the victims even paid the scammers hundreds of dollars in so-called deposit money.

It’s been about a year since Jonathan Liebert, the CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado, has seen this scam. He suspects it’s sparking up again because of the hot housing market.

“The scammers will kind of create this false sense of urgency telling you that others are interested and you’ve gotta act fast,” said Liebert. “In this housing market, that’s something that everyone’s saying. It’s pretty much legit, right?”

Liebert has a few tips for anyone looking to rent or buy property right now:

  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Google the address and check what other nearby properties are renting or selling for.
  • Google the email address or phone number of the person communicating as a landlord. If their contact information comes up on other ads in different cities, that’s a red flag.
  • See the property in person.

The Fords bought their home in West Colorado Springs a couple years ago. But photos of their house were still listed online. They plan to follow-up with those realty websites to have the photos taken down.

Colorado Springs and Denver police are also working to find out who was behind the scam.

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado welcomes phone calls: (719) 636-1155. You can also report a scam or check to see if someone else reported a scam on the BBB Scam Tracker.

Author Profile Photo

Lauren Barnas

Lauren is an anchor and MMJ for KRDO and 13 Investigates. Learn more about Lauren here.

Comments

10 Comments

  1. It seems that many realtors keep information and pictures of sold properties on their web sites, so if anyone searches for the address, the searchers will come to their site and they can steer them to similar properties in the area. Works exactly the same way for the scammers. Definitely a problem waiting to happen.

    1. I feel sorry for the people who got scammed as well-
      It’s going to be tough to find living space here in this over-priced community.

      1. Absolutely! Especially if they have a moving van full of furniture, etc., ready to go.

    2. You do realize that these scammers can use any pictures they want? They don’t have to be the exact pictures of said location. You sure are narrow minded.

      1. Of course they could! But even the scammers realize that anyone checking on the location would notice if the pictures were wrong, something you wouldn’t have though of. They’re obviously better educated than you are.

  2. That would be awful. I hope that they all found a place to live and got their money back.
    And I keep getting texts and postcards offering to buy my house and property. I mean, how do they get my phone number?! It’s never been listed for sale. I have lived here for decades. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    1. Just Google your name, and you’ll probably find your phone number somewhere online. Almost every company you do business with today sells your information to some marketing company, and trying to prevent it is almost impossible.

  3. Some people think that if it’s on Zillow, it means it’s for sale or rent. Not true. My house is on Zillow and it says “not on the Market”

  4. It would be interesting to see how the corresponded and how a deposit was made. Was it western union or another shady way? Insist on a certified check to an individual/leasing company and it can be traced.

    1. Unfortunately, people in a hurry (I have two other families interested!) tend to be willing to take short cuts, and this is one possible outcome.

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