• Home rental scam costs Memphis woman thousands of dollars

    By: Kody Leibowitz

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A Memphis woman thought she was renting a beautiful home in Southeast Memphis. Instead, she is out thousands of dollars. 

    The current frustration for Laress Pickens began as a moment of hope.

    A home rental ad surfaced on Craigslist offering rent for $1,375 per month for a four-bedroom home on Driscoll Street. 

    “If you can’t be moved by Monday please don’t call wasting my time nor yours. We are asking 1,375 a month plus security deposit. If you feel this is a scam please don’t call me we are serious people and don’t have time for games [sic],” the ad reads.

    As of posting this report on Wednesday, the ad is still active on Craigslist. 


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    The same home on Craigslist is listed on American Homes 4 Rent for $1,950 per month. 

    “They told me I could send the money [Walmart2Walmart Powered by Ria],” said Pickens. “And so after I did that, I got the key.”

    Pickens wired, through a Walmart service, nearly $2,400, said she received a working key and only needed the lockbox taken off the front door.

    She told FOX13 Investigates the so-called leasing agent told her he would come the next morning to take off the lockbox. 

    Pickens said he never returned her phone call, so she called American Homes 4 Rent.

    (FOX13 Investigates also reached out to this person and reached a voicemail that says his name and then American Homes 4 Rent. American Homes 4 Rent denied this person works for their company.)

    “They said they had no record of it and there was no one [working for them with that name],” said Pickens. “They was sorry and said if I could just leave the keys there. There was no one I could talk to, but within the next five to 10 minutes, someone just pulls up to change the locks.”

    And posted a sign to the front door of the home. 

    The sign reads: “WARNING! Our systems show that this property may be fraudulently posted on CRAIGSLIST/ZILLOW. Do NOT fall victim to a scam, and NEVER wire money!”

    Pickens filed an incident report with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.

    FOX13 Investigates called and left a voicemail for the number for the seller on Craigslist. 

    No one has since responded. 

    The home on Driscoll Street is owned by SFR 2014-TN LLC, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property website.  

    SFR 2014-TN LLC is a subsidiary company for American Homes 4 Rent, according to an SEC filing.

    A representative FOX13 Investigates spoke to confirms that American Homes 4 Rent owns all homes listed on its website. 

    That same representative told FOX13 that the company allows people to give themselves a self-tour by applying online through their “Let Yourself In” portion of their website.

    FOX13 provided American Homes 4 Rent the name and number of the person listing the ad on Craigslist.

    When told we could provide the name of the person who was scammed, the representative said it wasn’t needed. 

    American Homes 4 Rent told FOX13 it apologizes to Pickens and is doing its best to remove fraudulent posts. 

    “I’m not for sure [if I will get my money back],” said Pickens. “The way it’s looking – no – because [American Homes 4 Rent] is not even reaching out to me.”

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