After four years as a military family, Jamie and Randy McEwen were looking forward to starting their lives as civilians in Texas.
They’re stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas, but have family in Denton and McKinney. The McEwens saw a home listed on Craigslist for a unbelievable price in a well-manicured McKinney neighborhood.
They answered the ad and began talking with a man who said he was a minister, and was renting the home while doing missionary work for five years. He claimed that he was associated with First Baptist Church in Hurst.
The McEwens thought it was a perfect setup, so they sent $2,100 to the man who called himself "Rev. Shapp."
Soon though, Jamie realized they had made a big mistake.
"What really made me think about it is when he called back asking for more money," she said. "And I was like, 'No, we didn’t agree to that."
She said he never sent the keys or a lease. After numerous calls, Rev. Shapp refused to return their money while still claiming that the home was for rent... and providing no documentation.
"It’s a terrible scam," said Pastor Jason Meyer, who is the real leader at First Baptist Church. "It’s terribly unfortunate that they are taking advantage of people. I hate that we’re being named in it, because we certainly have nothing to do with it.”
Meyer said the church has received at least 30 calls about the same ad the McEwens answered, but there is no "Rev. Shapp" that is in any way affiliated with the church.
The house in McKinney is for rent. A leasing agent say says she has also received several calls about the ad the McEwens answered, and asked Craigslist to remove the bogus posting.
News 8 called a number provided to us by Jamie McEwen. No one ever picked up, but there was a voicemail message. A man with a deep voice said; "Hello, this is the reverend. Drop a message and I’ll call you back."
News 8 also called a second number the McEwens said was listed in the advertisement. No one answered that number either, but someone responded to several text messages claiming to be Rev. Shapp.
But when the person was told they were texting with a reporter, the texts stopped.
The McEwens had planned to move into the new home on April 1. Now they don’t know when they will be able to move. They don’t have a place, and they’re low on funds.
"This is a lot of money for us," Jamie McEwen said. "I mean, we basically live paycheck to paycheck with what my husband makes in the military.”
The McEwens have alerted police to the situation, but have been told it is unlikely they will be getting their money back.
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