Woman fears rental scam cost her hundreds
BATON ROUGE - Ads for a new home aren't what they appear. A rental-type scam may have reappeared in Baton Rouge and it's already cost one person $1,500.
Jenny Wilson says she's been wrapped up in this scam since May.
"He didn't seem like the type of man that would actually be scamming vulnerable people out of their money," she said.
Wilson responded to an ad in the classifieds on May 28, 2017. She intended to rent the Baker house described and called the number associated with the ad. Wilson says a man named Parry Vanfox with Parry Vanfox Properties answered the phone. She met with him and he showed her interior photos of the house, which was currently occupied by other tenants. She says she never saw the inside of the property in person.
Wilson put down a $700 deposit and paid the first months rent of $800 with money orders. Soon after, Wilson says she was offered a proposal to buy a house instead of rent.
"He said, 'Well hey, Ms. Wilson, you make enough money you can go from renting to buying a house,'" she said.
Interested, Wilson says she was shown a couple of listings including photos of one house on Toledo Bend Ave. in Baton Rouge. She was also set up with an agent and toured a home in the Monticello subdivision of Baton Rouge. Ultimately, she settled on the Toledo Bend Ave. home and says she signed paperwork indicating she would be moving in. She did not view the inside of this property in person.
"I was told numerous times I was going to have a move-in date," she said. "I never got a move-in date or anything."
The house on Toledo Bend Ave. has been listed by agent Carol Branch with EXP Realty for months. Branch tells 2 On Your Side Parry Vanfox Properties has no ties to her listing.
Parry Vanfox's legal name is Parry Donaldson. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office says Donaldson has been charged for similar activity in the past. The EBRSO says multiple cases involve people putting up money and even attending false closings, only to find out later they didn't purchase anything and didn't have the keys to the house.
Court records show Donaldson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years of active supervised probation in 2013. That probation was terminated satisfactorily on May 26, 2017, two days before the ad appeared in the classifieds.
Donaldson spoke with 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss Tuesday afternoon. He confirms Wilson gave him a $1,500 deposit on the house in Baker but returned that money to her because she didn't want the house. Donaldson says a month later Wilson called and said she couldn't find anything and wanted help finding a house. She gave the $1,500 back to him.
Donaldson tells 2 On Your Side he "offered to buy a home and finance it for her."
Donaldson said he'd call back Tuesday afternoon with his lawyer, but WBRZ did not receive that phone call.
According to state records, the original home in the classified ad for rent in Baker is not owned by Donaldson.
Wilson says she's currently living in a hotel and looking for a home to rent or buy. She's set up a goFundme account to help recoup some of the money lost.
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