LITHIA SPRINGS, Ga. — It was supposed to be their new “home sweet home,” but two weeks after Sonetta Gibss and her two kids moved in, Gibbs found out the home they rented didn’t belong to the person they signed a lease with.
Now the family has days to move out.
Gibbs told Channel 2′s Tom Jones that she was excited about the home in Lithia Springs when she first moved in.
“I was ready to move in and make this my home with my kids,” she said.
She said there was so much to love about the home: It was near her daughter’s school, it had a big backyard and it had four bedrooms.
“Upstairs. Downstairs. My little ones were so excited,” she said.
Two weeks earlier, she met the landlord, who gave her a tour. She was sold.
“This is the lease that she gave me. This is the receipt,” she said as she showed Jones the documents that looked official.
Gibbs said she paid $5,000 for a security deposit, along with first and last month’s rent.
The woman gave her the keys and two garage door openers. She said the woman even doted on her kids and was so angelic.
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“If you would have met her, like, she was sweet as pie,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs told Jones that she had no idea the woman didn’t own or have any affiliation with the home.
“It was a scam and I fell for it,” she admitted.
Gibbs said the real owners of the home learned she was there and told her she has to move out.
“They basically told me I had three days to get out,” Gibbs said.
She says the fake landlord’s phone number is now disconnected. She also tried to file a police report.
“The police just said basically they couldn’t do anything either,” Gibbs said.
Now, Gibbs is trying to figure out where she and her kids will stay. And where to put all their furniture.
She wants to warn others about con artists who prey on potential renters.
Gibbs wonders what type of person would rip off a single mother with small kids.
“There’s no shame. You just took my money with a smile,” she said.
The owners of the home said they would send a statement about all of this. But they offer tips on the sticker that was left on the door about how to avoid being scammed. It says never wire money or pay with cash or cash transfer apps. It says only lease the home through the company’s website.
In a statement sent to Channel 2 Action News Progress Residential said:
Rental scams are a big problem across the country. We have a dedicated team at Progress Residential focused on researching and investigating any reports of fraudulent activity or potential scams, and we work closely with impacted individuals to offer options and solutions to resolve these issues. While we don’t comment on specific cases, we make every effort to support these victims of rental fraud by providing an opportunity to directly work with Progress staff to apply for and rent the home they want.
Our website outlines steps we take to prevent fraud and educate consumers on these issues: https://rentprogress.com/watch-out-for-scams/
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