Chico Online Housing Scam

Sep 23, 2013 6:18 PM

It seemed like a deal too good to be true: a two bedroom, two bathroom house with a yard and detached garage in a south Chico neighborhood renting for just $500 a month.

So when Don Helton and Ruthie Thurman saw the deal online, they jumped on it quickly.

The couple exchange e-mails with who they thought was the homeowner. He claimed to be a bishop, leaving on a mission and wanted somebody to watch his house while he was overseas working for a church.

So, without ever meeting the homeowner in person, Helton and Ruthie sent a $400 deposit to an address in Nigeria. But now this couple is out of that money because this house was never on the rental market.

The real estate agent representing this property said she has seen this type of scam many times before.

As for Helton and Thurman, they hope others can learn from their mistake.

“Usually houses go for $800, $900, $1,200,” Helton said. “So if something is cheap you have to do your homework before you do anything further.”

And though it may seems pretty obvious, the real estate agent recommends never sending money to someone that you have never met.


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