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Scammer Targets Chico Renters

A homeowner says someone is posting photos of his home for rent on Craigslist and Facebook, so renters, beware!

Posted: Feb. 1, 2019 10:56 AM
Updated: Feb. 1, 2019 12:21 PM

Chico, Calif. -- Right now, thousands of people in Butte County are looking for some place to call home.

Unfortunately there's always someone out there looking to take advantage of another person's desperation.

Here's one man's story that he hopes you'll take as a word of warning:

"A firefighter had come through our park, looked at my house and said they wanted to rent it, they'd seen an add on Facebook," said Chico homeowner Tony Munroe.

This was strange news though for Munroe, who owns his Chico home and has no plans to leave.

Alarm bells going off in his head, he called his realtor.

"I went and found the add, you can click on it and call it 'prohibited'. The add went away, but the pictures are out there, so after that, what do you do?" said Re/Max realtor Robert Jeffries.

Worried and annoyed, Munroe did a little sleuthing of his own.

"I took on the add, called the people and they wanted to text, it was a Middle-Eastern accent, couldn't speak English very well and then I let him know that the FBI would be looking into this" said Munroe.

The scare tactic didn't work.

"This morning I got a message on Facebook from a guy saying 'good morning sir, I'm your new renter'," said Munroe.

This scammer had another victim - and an elaborate cover.

"(She) said that her name was Monica, she was my wife and that I had an accident and we were trying tot get the house rented while I'm in the hospital," said Munroe.

The scammer even provided a fake deed.

Action News Now alerted the Butte County District Attorney's Office. Munroe filed a police report.

He's not banking on catching the guy, but wants renters to be on the lookout.

"If you can't get someone on the phone and actually talk to them, if it's an out of the area prefix, that should be a red flag, so you've got to do some of your own diligence too," said Jeffries.

"People are so vulnerable right now, rentals are extremely hard to find, and just to have someone be taken if by this? Hopefully this will keep people from falling victim to this," said Munroe.

If you see something suspicious, don't take any chances. Report it to your local police and your district attorney.

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