MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — 3 On Your Side has an update about a Mesa couple ripped off in a house rental scam who initially thought they were out a lot of money.
“We’ve recouped 100% of the money that we lost.”
Jahn Lambert and his fiancé Lynn DelCampo say they can’t believe they have their money back following a rental scam. “They credited my account in less than a week.”
The scammer who posted the ad texted them a code to access the lockbox on the front door. After going in and liking what they saw, the couple agreed to send an electronic deposit.
In a previous 3 On Your Side report, the couple said they had outgrown their cramped Mesa apartment and needed more room. After searching online, they came across a rental house that they really liked and contacted the person who claimed to be the owner. However, he was a scammer who tricked the couple into forwarding him two security deposits to hold the house.
“$1,825 is what we paid,” Lambert added.
But a day after moving in, a property management inspector showed up, saying Jahn and Lynn must have been duped and told them they had to vacate. They did and were forced to go back to their two-bedroom apartment. Lambert says they were devastated.
“It was devastating. It was absolutely devastating.”
The scam works when a con artist finds pictures of legitimate rental homes online and then re-posts those same pictures as his rental house. Before 3 On Your Side’s involvement, Chase bank managed to retrieve the first payment the couple sent the scammer electronically. As for the second payment sent using Wells Fargo, 3 On Your Side asked the bank to see what it could do. After looking into the matter for us, Wells Fargo successfully recovered the remaining $500 from the scammer’s account and returned it to Jahn and Lynn.
“I genuinely believe it would not have happened if it wasn’t for news Channel 3 On Your Side.”
A big thank you to Chase and Wells Fargo because they did not have to return this money. Remember, if you transfer funds electronically using something like Zelle, the money is gone, and you most likely never get it back. In this case, because of the banks, the couple is very fortunate.
Wells Fargo sent 3 On Your Side the following statement and also provided scam prevention tips.
“We were troubled to hear that a fraudster defrauded one of our customers. It’s important to note that Zelle® is a fast form of payment, and you cannot cancel the payment if your recipient has already enrolled with Zelle. When we become aware of an issue, we work directly with our customers to assist them. We also have a thorough investigation process to research all fraud claims, and for an unauthorized transaction, reimburse our customers as required under law or our customer agreement.”
It is important to continue to educate consumers around potential frauds and scams and remind them to be extra vigilant during this time. We offer the following advice:
- Avoid sending money to anyone you don’t know or can’t verify as a legitimate company. Zelle should only be used to send money to friends, family, or others you know and trust.
- Don’t give your bank account information to individuals or organizations if you are unable to confirm the request is legitimate.
- Don’t select links, open attachments, or provide sensitive information through a suspicious-looking email or text message.
- Zelle is a fast-form of payment where you cannot cancel the payment if your recipient has already enrolled with Zelle. Ensure you verify the amount and recipient’s information before hitting “send”.
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