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Online crooks using legitimate listings to create fake posts, steal money

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An I-TEAM investigation reveals rental scams are hurting innocent families. News4Jax uncovered a number of local cases where online crooks pretend they own a property, take the deposit and first month's rent, and then disappear.

"Right now we are literally homeless with two kids," said Shandalier Barcous.

Barcous found a post on Zillow.com for a big house in Arlington that fit her budget. She reached out and got a quick response from someone claiming to be the owner of that property. (See Zillow's statement)

Looked at the house and fell in love," she told the I-TEAM.

Barcous completed the rental deal over the phone and by email. But, days later, she got a knock at the front door from the real owner of the property.

"As soon as we open the door they told us that we have been scammed," she said.

The Barcous family was scammed out of $900 for a security deposit and another $900 for the first month's rent.

It's difficult to track down the scammers involved, prove it's them and then bring them to court. Because of that, Private Investigator Marshall Boykin, with Boykin & Associates, is taking on the Barcous' case to try and catch the crook and get the family's money back.

"They transferred the money via Western Union," said Boykin. "He got $1,800 out of it, and that was it."

Boykin says he's uncovered the same person is stealing money from people all over.

"He did state to them, 'Good luck because I am out to scam the next one,'" said Boykin.  Read More