SPOKANE, Wash. - A young Spokane couple is warning people of a rental scam that cost them their life savings.
19-year-old Taylor Belton, and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Ian Schimandle, were promised a key, and a place to live from a stranger they met online.
"I just really thought it was real," Belton said.
Desperate to find a place to call their own, the two searched ads on Craigslist and found a home on E. Courtland in Spokane that seemed like a perfect fit. They emailed the poster and filled out a rental application - weeks ago, they even drove by the home and scoped out the backyard.
"Everything was closed up. Everything was empty. No one was in there," said Belton.
The stranger they emailed even texted them photos of the home's interior.
"I wanted the keys, I wanted to finish this and get moved in," said Schimandle. "We were ready, we were excited - desperate."
The couple was falling for a scam.
Belton said the stranger emailed them a rental application, which they filled out with personal information. They even received a FedEx label with their current address - the scammer promised to send keys.
"I looked up the tracking number and it said it was being shipped," Belton said.
The scammer mailed the "keys" after the couple sent a security deposit, plus the first and last month's rent - totaling $3,600.
Belton and her boyfriend were supposed to move into the home on January 1.
"As we were pulling up, there was a van parked outside that wasn't there before," said Belton.
They knocked on the door Monday and met another couple who bought the home and moved in days earlier. At that moment, the young couple realized the had fallen for a scam.
I guess my biggest concern now is just finding out who it is, and getting the money back," Belton said. They called CrimeCheck and are now working with law enforcement in Texas.
Walmart and Money Gram constantly warn people of scams involving money transfers. A warning on their website reads:
MoneyGram never recommends sending money to a stranger. Any monies received by a stranger cannot be recovered and unfortunately you will not get your money refunded back to you.
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