HOUSTON – It appeared to be the perfect home at the perfect price. From the lockbox to the lease, everything appeared legitimate.
But it was all an elaborate scam.
Abdullah Abu Taleb called American Homes for Rent (AH4R), which owns some 50,000 homes in 22 markets, looking for a deal. After checking out a few properties, he decided to house-hunt elsewhere.
A couple of days later, a man named Gano Idea, who claimed to work for AH4R, texted Abdullah with a few suggestions for properties that might fit his budget.
Abu Taleb found a couple of homes he liked, and decided to take a closer look. Idea texted Abu Taleb the lockbox codes, and Abu Taleb and his wife decided a three-bedroom home in League City was just right.
Idea texted Abu Taleb the application, which included AH4R in the web address, and helped him complete a background check. Idea sent Abu Taleb the lease, and the price: $1,900.
The day after moving in, Abu Taleb came home from work to find the locks had been changed, and a notice to "beware of fraud" on the door.
He called police, who called the property owner.
"They just told me you have until Monday to leave this property. And they took my money. I’m looking like everywhere, I’m kind of lost," Abu Taleb said.
He was surprised, he said, that the company rep said this wasn't the first scam at American Homes for Rent properties.
"He told me it happens all the time and we don’t have the control," Abu Taleb said.
When KPRC called American Homes for Rent, a media representative said she had never heard of a scam like the one Abu Taleb explained.
"I've never heard of that, honestly," she said. "That’s a new one to me."