The Veaches found what they had hoped to be their dream home, but their efforts to rent it turned out to be their worst nightmare.
For Shelly and Ron Veach, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember, but for all the wrong reasons.
"It's been devastating. I would say devastating," Shelly said.
The Veaches' troubles began eight months ago when they entered into a lease-to-purchase agreement on a pre-foreclosed home. They found the property on Craigslist and contacted the man claiming to be an investor interested in buying the property to renovate and flip.
"He said he had the deal locked up and that he was going to sell it to me on contract. I met him and we signed some contracts," Ron said.
And then Ron paid him $5,000 in earnest money, got the keys and wrote another check for $10,000 for repairs.
"He kept saying he was going to come by and do the repairs, and as soon as he cashed the check, you wouldn't hear from him, wouldn't hear from him, wouldn't hear from him -- he always had an excuse," Ron said.
Ron says he became suspicious when the alleged homeowner asked him for even more money, so he called the listing agent. She told us the same thing she told the Veaches.
"I got all the paperwork from the owner out of California, tried to meet up with him on at least five occasions and every time, he alluded me for one reason or another and he would just never consummate the deal," Real Estate agent Celina Stokes said.
The Harris County District Attorney's Consumer Protection Division is investigating and the case is set to go before a grand jury early next year. We called the man on the number he gave the Veaches, but it went to voice mail.
"The man needs to be stopped period," Ron said.
Meanwhile, the Veaches, a family of five, are out $15,000 - their entire life savings.
"I'll never get my money back, but at least we can have satisfaction knowing that he's not doing this to someone else," Ron said.
The alleged investor has a pending case, we're told, has a pending case out of Brownsville on an unauthorized sale of a motor vehicle. We're told he failed to appear in court on the day of his trial and a warrant has not been issued for his arrest.