CHICAGO (CBS) — A mother in the South suburbs moved into a dream house with her kids, only to learn she had been scammed.
As she now faces eviction, CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports this incident is a warning for other renters.
Rhonda Reynolds Ford said she first saw the comfortable Country Club Hills home advertised on Craigslist and met the man she thought was the owner at the residence.
“He had the keys — we walked right in the front door,” she recalled. “He said this was his house, that he had a couple of other people who were interested in it.”
Wasting no time, Ford jumped on it, and signed a lease in December of last year. She says she paid the first month’s rent as well as a security deposit, $4,000 altogether, in cash.
“There were leaks all throughout the house. I had to put plumbing in downstairs and repair the leaks,” Ford said, which cost her an additional $5,000.
However, a couple of months later, Ford learned the man she paid did not own the house. “I think it’s disgusting to take from people who are trying to live and struggle to make it day by day. How can you do that to somebody?”
In addition to her own children, Ford’s four young nieces also live with her.
“I’m feeling — I feel like I’ve got these kids to take care of,” Ford said, choking up. “And I don’t have anywhere for them to go. What am I going to do?”
Ford is currently on an unpaid medical leave from work, which is adding to her difficulties.
CBS 2 called the man who posed as the landlord, but there was no answer. It remains unclear how he had the keys to the house.
The attorney representing Wells Fargo Bank, which is the bank taking Ford to court, said he could not discuss the case.
Eileen Boyce of the Illinois Attorney General’s said the office has received 50 complaints since 2015 of people posing as landlords to scam renters. Boyce suggests renters check public records to make sure landlords and property management companies are legitimate.