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First time homeowner buys house then gets ambushed by 20 families claiming they’re renting her home
Shawn never put her home for rent so when strangers started showing up to her home shortly after she bought her home she knew she had to get the police involved.
Cherie Gozon
10.07.22

Imagine what it would feel like to finally afford your own house. It’s liberating, isn’t it? You can imagine all the things you want to do with and in it – design and activity-wise.

Pexels - Vecislavas Popa
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Pexels - Vecislavas Popa

But imagine if you discovered that your house is involved in a scam. Not a pretty dream, right? The burden is on you on how you would deal with it. Instead of enjoying your independence, you face a lot of trouble.

Pexels - Tara Winstead
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Pexels - Tara Winstead

You don’t have to imagine that scene because, unfortunately, this happened to a woman in Ocala, Florida in real life.

A swarm of interested renters

It was the first time that Shawn Mincy had bought her own house. You can imagine how excited she could have been with this move. But that dream-come-true turned into a nightmare when she saw a swarm of interested “renters.”

YouTube Screenshot - WESH 2 News
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YouTube Screenshot - WESH 2 News

She was confused about what was going on. An estimated twenty families were waiting outside, wanting to check out her house. But the thing is… it’s not for rent!

Pexels - Rachel Claire
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Pexels - Rachel Claire

One man said he paid someone a $2,000 move-in fee because he didn’t want to lose the deal. Shawn was puzzled by what was going on.

The scam

Joya Galbreath was one of those interested renters. She signed up and paid an application fee of $55. But she felt something was wrong when she received a Tenant Approval Letter from TurboTenant no less than 12 hours after she sent out the application.

YouTube Screenshot - WESH 2 News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - WESH 2 News

The letter reads:

“The home is currently occupied. They will be officially out on 8/25/22, and the home will be officially move-in ready on 9/1/22.”

She was already in the bank to pay for the deposit of $1,300 that the alleged landlord asked. But before doing so, she called him and said she didn’t want it to be a scam, and the supposed landlord assured her it was not. He immediately reiterated that she must send the payment right away.

She did not pay anything.

“Do your research.”

Joya said the one thing that saved her was that she did her research. She looked up common property scams, and that deal she had with TurboTenant ticked off all the boxes.

YouTube Screenshot - WESH 2 News
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YouTube Screenshot - WESH 2 News

Among the signs of property scams was that they usually insisted on wiring the security deposit immediately. They would refuse to meet up in person to check the house. Instead, they will give you an address and see it for yourself.

This is why Joya and many other “potential renters” were outside Shawn’s house that day.

Shawn’s solution

Meanwhile, Shawn had no idea that her house was used to scam these people. She moved in less than a month before all these people dropped by her front yard.

YouTube Screenshot - WESH 2 News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - WESH 2 News

She had no choice but to put a sign outside her home that the house was not for rent and that whoever would drop by and read that was potentially scammed.

Under investigation

Shawn Mincy’s home was not the only casualty. These scammers gave out other addresses, and they pretended that those homes were for sale. Shawn called Marion County Sheriff’s Office to report this scam.

YouTube Screenshot - WESH 2 News
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - WESH 2 News

The concerned sheriff’s office is still investigating this case. On the other hand, Shawn only has this small piece of advice to potential renters out there:

“If it looks like it’s too good to be true, then most likely it’s too good to be true,”

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By Cherie Gozon
hi@sbly.com
Cherie Gozon is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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