Disabled man scammed out of money when trying to rent home online

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Stephen Grove said the worst thing to happen to him was losing his right arm in a car accident.

What happened last week takes a close second.

Grove gets rental subsidy assistance from the Housing Authority. His current living place was damaged during Hurricane Harvey, and doesn't meet the criteria for the housing program.

"I was desperate," Grove said. "And that makes you do foolish things."

He posted his need for a new rental on Craigslist and got a quick reply. A reply referred him to a man named "Larry," who said he had a house in Humble available for rent. An application was emailed and all Grove had to do was wire him a $1,200 deposit.

"I pawned all my tools to get it," Grove said.

His plan was to make wooden toys, using only one arm, to help support himself.

"I paid the deposit and I had to send three money orders to the bank account and routing number he gave me," Grove said.

He is still waiting for the keys and documents to be delivered.

The real leasing company who represents the property owner, according to a representative, has already leased the home, and it would have required more than a $1,200 deposit. The company knows nothing of "Larry," but told ABC13 rental scams are common in Houston.

It sounds familiar to Houston Better Business Bureau President Dan Parsons.

"Every good internet complaint we have has a Craigslist component to it.

Parsons calls it a scam.

"If it wasn't, the bad guy would be saying 'let me meet with you, there's been a miscommunication,'" he said.

Grove is still waiting, and time is growing short. He has to find a new place to live by the end of the month. He has no money to redeem his tools from the pawnshop. He has no idea of where he'll go.

"That's pretty despicable," he said. "Because this was planned."

To help Grove, a GoFundMe account has been set up.
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