ELKHART, IND. (CBS) — If this little house on the 1100 block of Hudson Street in Elkhart could speak, it would have an odd story to tell with a sad ending.
Michael Wiebe owns the home, but moved away after he put it on sale last June. Last month, he discovered he had tenants.
“There was a couple that moved into the house. They had rented the house from someone who had cut the lock box open and gotten into the house and changed the locks, then posted the house on Craigslist,” Wiebe told WSBT.
The new tenants thought they rented the home legitimately. They showed Wiebe’s father their new lease, which listed a fake business name, address and a number from a throwaway phone. The couple also paid $2,500 to their fake landlord, who has yet to be found.
Elkhart Police Sgt. Chris Snyder told WSBT the police couldn’t do anything.
“The investigation and arrest would be difficult,” he said.
Snyder also said this type of scam is old. Criminals watch realtor websites and target vacant homes.
“The opportunity was there, somebody seized that opportunity,” he said.
Wiebe ended up paying the couple to move out instead of dealing with the hassle of an eviction.
Police recommended sellers should stay in touch with neighbors who can watch vacant homes. They also say renters should never pay in cash, ensure they can verify their landlord, and be skeptical if they find a property on Craigslist that looks too good to be true.