Marquette County man loses nearly $1,000 to real estate scam

Kevin Teehan found an ad for a Marquette house on Craigslist. He sent the scammer $980.
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 5:53 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - A Marquette County man says he lost nearly $1,000 in a real estate scam.

Kevin Teehan and his roommate found a Craigslist ad for a house on West Crescent Street in Marquette. Needing a new place to live by the end of the month, Teehan says they jumped at the chance to lease the property.

“I filled out the rental application and sent it back to him,” said Teehan. “The next day, he said we were approved for the house, and then we started making arrangements to send the money for the deposit so he could send me the keys.”

That’s when he says the situation took a turn for the worse.

“When the guy started delaying sending me the tracking number for the keys that he was supposed to send me after I sent him this $980 for the security deposit, then I started thinking something was wrong,” Teehan said.

By then, it was too late. Teehan eventually received a fake tracking number. He saw the “for sale” sign outside the house and contacted the realtor. He found out the scammer did not own the property, and according to the realtor’s office, he wasn’t the only person who tried to rent it.

“I know of two that actually sent money and said unfortunately they were in a time constraint to find a new piece of property,” said Erick Brooks, assistant to RE/MAX realtor Breck Tonella. “Once we found out that it was on Craigslist, we flagged the ad and I put up signs on the house saying, ‘This house is not for rent. It’s a scam on Craigslist.’”

Teehan says a detective with the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the scam. However, he doesn’t anticipate getting the $980 back.

“The guy that is running the scam is based in Atlanta,” Teehan said. “The money went to North Carolina, so I doubt if I’ll recoup the money. I’m just going to chalk it up as a loss.”

Now, Teehan says he just wants to prevent the same thing from happening to others looking for a place to live.

“Don’t send anybody any money—not even a penny—especially if you haven’t met them,” he said. “We thought it was a great deal, but I would never send any money to anybody ever again. Ever.”

A GoFundMe has been set up for Teehan and his roommate. He says he is not expecting donations, but he appreciates anyone who chooses to give.

Brooks says if you see an ad for a property and are unsure about it, contact a RE/MAX agent to check.

The Marquette City Police have released some tips to avoid losing money from a rental scam. Police say to visit properties in person. If you don’t live nearby, they suggest asking someone you trust to visit in your place.

Police also advise renters and buyers not to pay with cash or wire transfer and to be careful with confidential information. If possible, officials say to rent from a reliable property management company rather than an ad online.

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