Rental scammer cheats Omaha couple out of thousands

A couple was scammed out of $1,650 by a fake landlord who promised them a rental home.
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 10:34 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Caseys had loaded their car with belongings and dreams, set to move to a new rental home advertised on Facebook.

“Everything looked good,” Levi Casey said. “The lease was legit, everything was legit, but it wasn’t the actual person’s name and he forged the signature on it. Everything just crashed.”

A phony landlord with a Connecticut phone number listed an Omaha duplex for rent. The Caseys were fooled into a Cash App payment of $1,650.

They never met him in person. They paid the person who they thought to be the landlord a deposit and one month’s rent, putting all their trust in what they had received online.

The Caseys tell 6 News the landlord claimed to have surgery recently and couldn’t meet them in person until the scheduled day of the move-in.

“As soon as we got here, him magically disappearing was an obvious sign, but we still trusted him and definitely shouldn’t have,” Shelly Casey said.

The actual landlord declined to comment, so 6 News spoke with the Metro Omaha Property Owner’s Association.

“Let’s do it the old-fashioned way,” MOPOA President Rick McDonald said. “It’s a lot safer that way. You can put a stop payment on a check. Same with a money order. But don’t be too quick. If they’re asking for money upfront and demanding it, you probably don’t want it.”

Another landlord advises renters to always ask for a photo ID.

“Have the person prove that they own the property,” said Glenn Miller. “I’ve never had anybody in 30 years ask me ‘Do you own that property?’ as they hand me checks and cash.”

So the Caseys must save up again for a place of their own.

“My grandparents even loaned us extra to get us through this, to file more applications, and it’s gone,” Shelly said.

It’s a lesson in trust that the couple will teach their four-year-old son, Daxton.

“Now we can’t move,” Levi said. “Why? Because the guy took all of our money.”

The couple filed a police report and a fraud complaint with Cash App, but they’re not optimistic about getting their money back.

6 News reached out to the fake landlord’s phone number and he answered, saying that the same occupied duplex is for rent. But he has excuses for not meeting to show the property and when asked for a photo ID, he stopped responding.