By Dillon Thomas
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – The Fort Collins Police Department has raised more than $1,000 for a local family, after they victim to a housing scam.
Desiree and Bennie Loban said they found their perfect home online, and contacted the posting party. After filling out an application, and sending money via MoneyGram, the landlord gave them a move-in day.
When that day arrived, the landlord said the key was lost in the mail. He told them to go in the backdoor when they arrived.
The family found a backdoor unlocked, and moved in their belongings to the empty home.
“I was so happy we found a house,” said Dravus Sullivan, the youngest son.
The next day, the family found police at their house. Police had received a report of trespassing at the address, with the caller saying they were the owner.
“The owners of the residence called in, and said somebody’s else’s stuff was inside her house,” said Officer Kelsey Skaar with Fort Collins Police Services.
Police questioned the Loban family, and realized there was a misunderstanding.
“They actually believed that they were supposed to be living there,” Skaar said.
After seeing the family’s proof of payment and lease, police realized the family was scammed. The online post was created by a fake landlord. The vacant home, and unlocked door, were all blamed on good timing for the scammer.
The family was kicked out of the home. Police gave them a voucher for a hotel for the night. Now, they are without a home.
“It is hard to realize your family no longer has a home,” Bennie said.
“(Dravus) started crying, and that pretty much broke all our hearts,” Skaar said.
“This was a huge opportunity for us to try and do something to try and help,” said Officer Brian Werder.
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Responding officers, including Officer Scott Maher, set up a GoFundMe for the family and passed the link around their office.
In less than two days online, the post gathered more than $1,000 for the family.
“It was awe inspiring just to see the results,” Werder said.
“I started crying,” Desiree said. “That just shows you that there are good people.”
Police, and the family, hoped their story would encourage others to look at the renting process differently. While many find homes online, both parties involved said it was important to meet with the landlord in person, before giving money. Also, police said it is not normal for landlords to ask for money via MoneyGram or gift cards.
Police are investigating who was behind the scam, and say this family was not the first to show interest in living in the home, while it was not for rent.
LINK: Loban GoFundMe Page
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.