Online rental scam leaves family homeless

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Imagine moving hundreds of miles with your family for a new job only to find out that your new rental home was a scam.

A family wanted to celebrate a big homecoming. Instead, they found themselves fraud victims.

Nancy Lambert told abc13 she wanted to move back to Texas after living in Illinois for 12 years. She spent months searching for the right property online. Lambert finally found it in Conroe off La Salle Branch.

"It was our first time looking for a house like that," said Lambert. "We got ahold of the man listed as the owner."

Lambert's dream home ended in a nightmare. She and her longtime boyfriend Danny Fischer flew in to tour the property last week. When they arrived, the so-called landlord told them how to access a drop box. They used the key to get inside and check out the place.

Lambert and Fischer told Eyewitness News they loved the house so they sent $1,150 to the man despite never meeting him.

"We were dumb to send them money grams," said Lambert.

They only discovered they were being defrauded after packing up their belongings, renting a truck, and making their 24-hour drive to Texas.

"We never thought this would happen to us," said Fischer. "I know when we came down here. We flew down here that Monday. Everything seemed fine. We ended up getting a key, renting and looking at the house. Everything looked great."

The couple showed abc13 their signed lease. The "landlord's" name does not coincide with court records. The house belongs to a big rental company and was just leased to someone else. Online though, you can still find it listed with number after number to call.

Through tears, Lambert explained her family-of-five and four cats is now living out of a motel room off the North Freeway. She is down to $200 and only has the room until Tuesday.

"We just need someone to take that leap of faith and trust us," said Lambert. "As soon as we start working, we'll be able to maintain rent."
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newsrental scamsHouston
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