News10NBC Investigates: Family moves out of Greece home after rental scam

Family helps victims of rental home scam

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

GREECE, N.Y. – There is new information on a News10NBC investigation into the elaborate scam that trapped two families looking for their dream home in Greece.

The family who got duped into renting the home has moved out but they’re getting help from the family who actually owns it. The owners are paying for a hotel room for the other family through Sunday night.

Marisa and Kristian Franco are active duty U.S. Coast Guard stationed in California. In early May they bought a house in Greece. They intend to rent it to their family members until they move back.

But last week, Annette and Erick Baldwin moved into the house after they answered a rental ad posted on Craigslist. The Baldwins say they tried to do their due diligence and asked questions but they said the scammer had an answer for everything including a bogus lease with the names of the Francos and the previous owner on it.

After that story, News10NBC’s Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean heard from real estate agent Scott Barrows. He said just about every realtor has faced this scam. It happened to him when someone was using his marketing materials to collect deposits on fake rentals.

Berkeley Brean: “Were they working with you?”

Scott Barrows, Keller Williams Realty: “They were not working with me.”

Berkeley Brean: “But they had all kinds of pamphlets of yours with your name on it.”

Scott Barrows: “Marketing material and everything yes.”
“And typically their mo is the house can’t be seen because it’s re-modeled or tenants are in place and they’re just taking a deposit for the house that’s going to be available in a month or two,” Barrows said. “I’ve contacted the police before and they said there’s nothing they can really do until money changes hands.”

Money was exchanged in this case and Greece police have an open investigation.

The Baldwins say the scammer convinced them to hire a locksmith to change one of the locks so they could get in.

Berkeley Brean: “If you were presented with the situation that we exposed yesterday with that house, what would you have done?”

Nicole Blue, locksmith: “I would have suggested they reach out to an authority because that sounds like a scam. We have to have the owner on premises or we have to have expressed permission from them to enter a property.”

Video Below: Berkeley Brean talks to a locksmith about the scam.

Locksmith talks about rental home scam

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.