Woman scammed $4,200 in apparent Antelope rental scam
A Grass Valley family thought they were paying for a new rental home, but later learned that the person they paid did not own the home.
ANTELOPE, Calif. — A 58-year-old widow caring for her 91-year-old mother says someone stole thousands of dollars from her in a rental scam.
Claudia Sharp is a sales professional who has worked with the same Loomis-based company for nearly 30 years. She began looking for a new rental home after her longtime rental home in Grass Valley was sold to a new owner and she was told she would have to move out, Sharp said.
Sharp searched all over the area, but was looking for a three-level room to accommodate her elderly mother who has difficulty walking, Sharp said.
She eventually came across an online rental listing and began speaking with a man who identified himself as David Clark, a name she now believes was made up. He told her he owned a house in Antelope that was in his price range.
Despite numerous cancellations to view the property, Sharp said she was desperate for a home in her price range and jumped at the chance. She spoke with the man on the phone and via text for several days, Sharp said.
“It was the first month’s rent, the deposit and a bunch of other miscellaneous HOA fees, that’s what he said,” Sharp said.
She paid more than $4,200 in rent, deposit and HOA-related fees that were requested by the man through the Zelle online money transfer service. She then received a rental agreement and a receipt.
However, when it came on move-in day on June 3, the man did not show up to give her the key. Sharp said she was worried but had somehow moved on since she paid and got a lease.
“Deep down, I definitely felt like there were some red flags,” she said before bursting into tears.
Three days later, a couple knocked on the door asking to see the rental. That’s when she realized she had been scammed, Sharp said.
“It’s just awful that anyone could sleep at night knowing they’re doing this to people,” Sharp said. “I took everything I had, everything I had.”
She has since contacted the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department to report fraud. She also contacted the landlord, Invitation Homes, who allowed her to stay in the house while she applied to rent it.
“We are always frustrated to discover that one of our houses has been used for this type of scam, which can have a devastating effect on victims. Our goal, as always, is to provide quality homes and ensure our residents have great experiences,” an Invitation Homes spokesperson said in a statement. “Our fraud prevention advice includes monitoring greedy requests for cash or wire payments with emotional advocacy, abnormally high security deposits and no background checks required.”
Company officials say they encourage customers to contact the company directly through their website.
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