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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) – “My house is not for rent. That’s why I tried for them to take it down. Take that down.”
Owner Shawn Mincy said it was around 10 a.m. when she noticed her Marion Oaks home was attracting a lot of attention.
More than 10 different families came to her house in an hour. They claimed her house was for rent on sites like Zillow, Apartments.com and Turbo Tenant.
“From 10:00 a.m. to 11:20 a.m., I literally had people come and go,” Mincy explained.
Marion County sheriff’s deputies said the scammers demanded rental fees, $55 household member fees and even collected deposits.
People visited all the way from Tampa.
Joya Galbreath said she entered her personal details in the rental application and quickly heard about her approval. She didn’t fall for the trap after visiting Mincy’s property.
“At 5 a.m. I get a text saying I’ve been approved and there was also an email with the tenant’s approval letter,” Galbreath said.
People received fake tenant approval letters. Mincy is now worried people will show her property next month after she said the move-in date is September 1.
“It’s scary because now I have to deal with these people who have this letter with this notary sealed on it saying they’ve been approved to move into my house,” Mincy shared.
Other victims sent over $2,000 for the first month’s payment.
“These people can potentially become homeless, they can have children, families, and that’s not good,” Galbreath said. “I feel awful for them.”
Mincy said it was difficult to access real estate websites.
“They really need to increase their policies on tenant and landlord safety,” Mincy said.
Home Realty agents said home listing scams may be on the rise in the area.
“It’s unfortunate and I think it’s going to be a trend we’ll continue to see. Times are tough, people are struggling and inflation is real,” John Collins said. “But at the same time, we can be smart on this subject.”
They encourage people to check out the sites before sending money.
“If it’s showing $1300 and you know the surrounding area is $1650, then you know, you need to double-check,” Nadina Collins said.
Deputies have filed an incident report and are investigating the home scam.
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