Breaking News
More () »

Fort Worth family says home rental scammers took money and threatened to hurt kids

"First I'm getting put out of a home and now I'm getting threatened of my life. What else could possibly happen?" Daija Washington said.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Trevontee Garner and Daija Washington were excited to finally find a house they can make a home for the holidays.

They found a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home that fit the needs of their young family of four. They found the home online and within hours of showing interest in the home they received a phone call from someone claiming to be the homeowner.

"It was beautiful. It was a pretty nice. It had a decent size backyard and a shed too. It was perfect," said Garner.

The price of the Fort Worth home was a deal too good to be true. They were used to paying $1,700 a month to rent an apartment and this home was much less than that for more space. 

The reality is the house they signed and paid for was never theirs. And, the person over the phone who claimed to be the homeowner was not.

"The day we moved in, that's the exact day all hell broke loose, period," said Washington.

Garner and Washington had access to the home and were given the access code to move their things inside. 

The way some of these scammers work is they lure people into believing their the rightful owner. They provide access codes to the door, have paperwork sent over electronically and require payments using cash apps. 

These scammers also never show up to tour the home and did everything over phone or social media.

"They're looking under any rock for any potential house they can rent and when they do their awareness level goes down," said Cliff Freeman of the Cliff Freeman Group, a real estate company.

The home actually belongs to Progress Residential, a large company. 

A representative with the company sent WFAA the following statement: 

"We can confirm the perpetrators of this scam have no affiliation with Progress Residential. We have a dedicated team at Progress Residential focused on investigating reports of fraudulent activity or potential scams and coordinating with law enforcement. We are working closely with the victim and her family to offer options and solutions. While we cannot comment on ongoing investigations, we are making every effort to support victims of rental fraud by providing an opportunity to directly work with Progress staff to apply for and rent the home they want."

Garner and Washington are out $5,400 and would really like to get their money back. But, it gets worse. 

A possible second scammer who left a note inside the home, first under the guise of wanting to help, started threatening the couple. 

"The cops can't stop me cause I'm a special assassin," read one of the texts according to Washington. There is a series of text messages between Washington and the second person involved. 

Washington texted they would alert authorities which ended in the person threatening to hurt their two "little kids."

"First I'm getting put out of a home and now I'm getting threatened of my life. What else could possibly happen?" Washington said.

It is unclear if the initial scammer has any connection to the second person who communicated with the family. In one exchange over text, the second person involved claims to be the agent for the initial scammer. 

The couple is of the belief that the scam is so far-reaching that it has someone on the ground and in the community.

Garner and Washington are thankful to be staying with family for now. They have filed a police report with Fort Worth police. 

The response recieved from the department is that it is an "ongoing investigation." The couple is frustrated by the lack of movement on the investigative front.

"We just wanted to be in a house together and, for once, happy... to see our kids run around and get a big Christmas tree," Washington cried. 

The family said they want to share their story to keep other people from being victims.

Freeman, a real estate expert, told WFAA that he recommends people always use a licensed realtor for transactions. He says people should never pay with cash apps, always meet the agent in person and not just over the phone. 

And finally, if a deal is too good to be true, it likely is.

Before You Leave, Check This Out