Facebook rental scam traps two men, both out $1,400
BATON ROUGE - Two men were swindled out of their hard-earned cash while trying to secure a place to live. They didn't find out about the scam until they ran into one another at the same house they were trying to rent.
The house was advertised on Facebook Marketplace. The offer seemed legitimate, but both men lost their money.
Gary Krumm has recently moved to the Baton Rouge area from Kansas. He's been looking for a place to live with two other roommates and their three dogs. Krumm responded to the ad on Sunday and went by to look at the place on Elgin Street from the outside. It appeared to be remodeled and looked like a nice place to live with enough space for the dogs to roam in the backyard.
The Facebook poster messaged Krumm back with her boyfriend's information and a number to call him. William Mayfield is the guy's name. Krumm said Mayfield called him and had asked to meet in a public space, instead of the house for rent.
Krumm met him at a fast food restaurant where he signed a lease, got a key, and handed over a deposit and first month's rent of $1,400. When he arrived at the house soon after there was someone else parked in the driveway.
"We came to the house and there was somebody sitting in the driveway with the same signed lease and the same cut key," said Krumm.
The keys didn't work and there was a lock box on the door.
"I just couldn't believe it, just the amount of stress overwhelmed me at that point," he said.
At first, William Mayfield responded to Krumm's concerns calling it a "misunderstanding" and said he'd give the money back. He'd also asked not to get the police involved. The situation got sketchier. In a text thread, Mayfield said he got a flat tire and asked if Krumm could come to Port Allen. When Krumm told him no, Mayfield said he could either leave the money in a hidden spot in Baton Rouge or send it to him by CashApp. Even though Krumm supplied his CashApp, the money has not been received.
Both Krumm and the other would-be tenant contacted the police and have filed a report. As of Friday, the phone number for William Mayfield no longer works.
"Going into it, I thought it was real," said Krumm.
He doesn't want anyone else to fall for this scam and encourages others to never sign a lease and hand over rent money for a place that you haven't been inside of. Krumm also warns that if a landlord can't meet you at the place of rent, it's a red flag.
Krumm says he'll now have to wait until he can make enough money to cover the cost of a deposit and rent before he starts looking again. He plans to shop with an agent or use a different platform to search.
The property on Elgin Street was sold in May to a company called Grade A Real Estate. The photos of the property listed on the now deleted Facebook ad appear to have been ripped from Zillow.
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