A homeless South Florida woman saved enough money to rent a house, but after putting all her trust in a rental ad, she was left with no place to call home. 7’s Kevin Ozebek investigates.

Khe Harris is temporarily living with a friend now, but for months, she was living on the streets of South Florida.

Khe Harris: “I was sleeping in buildings and all kinds of things, and I kind of blew up on TikTok.”

She shared stories of her desperation while she tried to find a place to live with her newborn daughter. Back in March, she says someone took advantage of her despair.

Khe Harris: “I knew we have been scammed.”

She found an ad on a real estate website for a rental house.

Khe Harris: “You know, finally, a place to call my own.”

She texted the person listed on the ad named “Ben.” He told her she needed to send a $75 application fee using Zelle, but she would have to wait a few days to tour the house because it was “currently occupied.” Khe sent the cash and got another text from “Ben” the next day. He wanted more money.

Khe Harris: “I need you to send the final payment, so that way I can have your receipt at the time of you moving in.”

She was told she had to pay $1,049 for her “first month’s rent,” and she needed to do it immediately.

Khe Harris: “I said, ‘I don’t feel comfortable doing that until I have a key or seen the place.'”

But Khe knew homes were flying off the market, so she sent the money anyways. She never heard from “Ben” again.

Michael Greenberg, real estate attorney: “If a prospective landlord says the property is not able to be viewed right now, it’s occupied, that’s a red flag.”

Real estate attorney Michael Greenberg says it’s never a good idea to hand over money before checking out a property, even in South Florida’s red hot housing market.

Michael Greenberg: “So you should always ask to meet the prospective landlord in person at the property. You should never enter into an agreement to rent a property in South Florida or in any market without having done a walk through.”

Greenberg says potential renters should check the property appraiser’s website to verify the actual owner is the same person offering the rental.

Michael Greenberg: “Make sure the name on the deed matches the name that of the person who you’re speaking to.”

In Khe’s case, the person who took her money assumed the identity of the person who owns the house. He even emailed her a copy of the deed.

Khe Harris: “They were able to go get that and print that out themselves online.”

The address on the deed belongs to a home in this neighborhood in Tamarac. The actual owner did not want to speak on camera, but he did tell us that he recently learned that someone is using his name, his deed, and photos of his house in fake rental ads.

Khe Harris: “I realized that they take legitimate ads and then they just copy and paste it.”

We found this rental ad of the same house. It says to “drive by the home” to check it out and “to schedule a virtual tour.”

Khe Harris: “This is who you stole from. You didn’t steal from me, you didn’t steal from me, you stole from her.”

Khe reported the fraud to the police and to her bank. Her money is gone, and her despair is back. Once again, she is looking for a safe place to live.

Kevin Ozebek, 7News.

Khe has created a GoFundMe page. Click here if you would like to help.

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
7Investigates@wsvn.com

Copyright 2022 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox