Couple says 'so-called owner' swindled them out of thousands after touring property

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A Gwinnett County couple told Channel 2 Action News they fell for a rental scam and now they're out more than $2,000.

Tarryn Tallow said she and her boyfriend were looking for a new place that would accept their husky dog.

She said they found what they thought was the perfect option -- a townhouse in Lawrenceville through an app called Apartment List.

They contacted someone named David, who claimed to be the owner.

“I thought it was so legit,” Tallow said.

The strangest part? Tallow said she even got to tour the property while never meeting the so-called owner face-to-face.

She said a woman doing maintenance let them in.

"She was outside already and she was, like, 'Go ahead, the door's open,'” Tallow said.

It’s not clear who the woman was, but it’s clear Tallow and her boyfriend loved the townhouse and went forward with an application process.

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The person who they thought was the owner said all they needed to pay was rent and the deposit.

In total, they were asked to pay $2,000 through digital payments network Zelle, but that's when the communication came to a halt.

“We call him and there’s no answer,” Tallow said. "We had to come here and we had to come out another $2,000 and that was, like, all our money and we were both trying to go back to school but we got to wait again."

Channel 2's Alyssa Hyman also tried to get in contact with the so-called owner, but no one answered that number.

A spokesperson from Apartment List said a third party posted the listing twice, adding it has been investigated and removed from the site and the address has been blocked.

“I don't want it to happen to anyone else,” Tallow said.

Hyman was able to track down the actual property owner through property records. It’s a California-based company called Opendoor and representatives said Opendoor properties are never for rent -- only for sale.

Channel 2 consumer advisor Clark Howard said there's one important way to protect yourself.

"You never, ever, not ever use Zelle or Venmo whenever you’re paying anybody who is not a friend or family member -- period,” Tallow said.

Tallow filed a police report. She said she's tried to get her money back from her bank, but claimed the bank refused since she authorized the payment.