DENVER -- A Denver family becomes homeless Sunday and they owe it all to a scam.
The family of five thought they had finally found the perfect rental home.
But learned just last night they not only lost the house--but all the money they put into it.
“When we saw the house, I was like, ‘This is the perfect house,'” says grandmother Ramona Salas, about the house at 20342 E. 40th Pl. in Green Valley Ranch.
It was the perfect house in every respect for her, her grown son, daughter and two young granddaughters, ages 2 and 5.
“Here they can play. Have privacy. Now, everything is down the drain,” she says.
The family spent three days moving all their things in, when they learned yesterday they’d have to move out tomorrow.
“Where am I going to go?” questions Ana Salas, 26.
The question weighs heavy on the single mother of two daughters, who’s out a home and $4,200 in deposits and rent—not to mention hundreds in extended moving truck costs, cable hookup fees, and double tow truck fees to move two disabled cars from the garage.
“I can’t believe it happened to us,” says Ramona.
What happened is a man posing as a realtor rented the family the 4-bedroom house, even though it’s not his to rent.
“He came. He opened the doors. He had a key. He gave me a key, two garage door openers,” says Ana.
He also made them sign a 12-page lease, which showed his alleged name: Lance Davis, his company information, including his phone: 720.310.0638, email: DavisL@@live.com, and address: 3700 Quebec St. in Denver.
“I kept calling. I kept texting him. Nothing,” says Ana, after he failed to turn on the home’s water heater.
When they finally called “American Homes 4 Rent” directly, they knew they’d been had. A customer service agent gave them the bad news.
“'You’re not the renter. Someone else rented the house.' He asked, ‘What are you doing there?' I was like, ‘We rented the house. We have a lease,’” says Ramona.
But that lease is fake--along with the realtor.
“Everything was in here. Everything,” says Ana about all their worldly belongings moved inside the house.
Now they’ve moved it all out--back into a moving truck and into storage.
“I wasted all my money on this house,” says Ana.
Money that’s dwindled to just $30, as they hold onto their faith that they’ll be okay.
“I hope they catch him and he gives me my money back,” says Ramona.
American Homes 4 Rent each have a lock box on the door with a key in it.
You are given a code to the key after you give the company a credit card number.
But there’s nothing preventing anyone from making copies of that key--which is what this scammer may have done.
Denver Police are investigating.
Meantime, the family can stay in the home until 5 p.m. Sunday.
The Salvation Army says they can stay there until Tuesday. But the family is unsure what will happen after that.