CUYAHOGA FALLS - The FOX 8 I-Team started investigating after the owner of a home in Cuyahoga Falls and his realtor reached out for help.
Warren Capps said a fake ad was placed on Craigslist, listing his home for rent.
"I am not renting this house," Capps told FOX 8 Tuesday. "I am selling it. The house is for sale, not rent."
He contacted Craigslist and the link was removed, but then reappeared.
"As a realtor for over 20 years, I have never experienced first hand how aggressive this scam was," said Tracey Touma, of Idea Realty, who is Capps' realtor.
"The person played on people's emotions. Saying that he could only be contacted through email, had no family or friends who could show the house for him. All communication through email as he was deaf. People felt like they were helping him out by renting the house from him. He was smart, he took the pictures from the Internet, downloaded them and then posted them. And if you drove to the house and looked in the windows, it was the same as the pictures."
Touma and Capps said several people told them they sent money to a man in Texas, believing they were renting the home.
"It was believable enough that several families lost money," Touma said. "The police department would be notified and the Craigslist ad would be removed for several days then re-appear.
I have placed a description on the MLS, notifying other realtors as well just in case they would receive a call."
Ben Beals said he saw the ad and emailed the person. He said he was interested in the home and drove by. When he saw the "For Sale" sign in the yard, he called the real estate agent and started asking questions.
"I am glad I checked it out," Beals said.
One couple filed a police report at the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department in March. The victims said they talked to a man in Texas and sent $600 to rent the home. We called the phone number on the police report. The person would not talk on the phone, saying they were hard of hearing. They texted to say they were Warren Capps and they had already rented the home to someone.
We sent a picture to them saying we were with Warren Capps and he is not renting the home. The person then replied, "I don't know who that is, but I am the owner of my house."
Capps said he is frustrated and wants to warn others about the scam.
"Buyers and renters need to do their due diligence and be aware, " Touma said. "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. For the public's interest, please check things out and ask questions."