A Riverdale mother says she's been conned out of hundreds of dollars by a rogue real estate agent.
Monica O'Neil thought the three bedroom home off Buffington Road in Union City was hers to keep as long as she paid the rent, but she says she and her teenage daughter are now homeless after finding out that the home is already under contract.
"I'm out here with nowhere to live, my daughter's here, I'm just running from pillar to post, trying to find something else," O'Neil said.
O'Neil says she was driving around the Lattimore Park subdivision two weeks ago when she spotted a for sale sign in the front yard. She said that fliers attached to the sign indicated the house was for rent. She called man listed on the flier and he agreed to show her the house.
"He said it was winterized, everything was good, it was move-in ready. He sweetened the deal by saying ‘I can provide you with a mover if you want to move now. I can pay for the mover,'" O'Neil said.
O'Neil said that the paid the man $735, but when tried to move in, she found the house locked.
To make matters worse, O'Neal said that she is locked out with all of her furniture and belongings locked inside. When she tries to call the so-called agent, she said she gets no answer.
Consumer protection and real estate experts say it's easy for renters to get duped by rogue agents. Their advice:
- Verify the property is on the market by calling a realtor.
- Verify the person you're dealing with works for the company listing the property.
- Be wary of agents not tied to a brick and mortar real estate firm or property management company.
- Deposits and other payments should be made to companies, not individuals.
Experts said that many HUD homes have universal codes that allow people to get inside.
The home's real estate agent said he is working with O'Neal to get her belongings. O'Neal said that she can't afford to move into a different home.