Scam artist alters Fenton woman’s real estate listing, fields calls himself

FENTON, MO (KTVI) – It’s creepy; perhaps even criminal. An area realtor stumbles upon what she fears is a new scam. Now, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department is investigating.

It appears someone hacked into an online ad for a house for rent in Fenton; someone with a California phone number, claiming to own the house.

The sign out front of 1929 Westboune Way in Fenton says for “Lease/Rent.”

Realtor Charlene Robinson and Image Realty in High Ridge have represented the owner, an elderly widow, for the past three years.

“Last night, I got a phone call from another agent and she said she had some potential renters for the home,” Robinson said.

When the potential renter looked at the home on the Zillow real estate website, she didn’t notice the ad had been changed. The house description was different and it included a phone number with a Los Angeles area code, asking interested parties to text the owner at that number.

Robinson had no idea until she got another call from the other realtor.

“She contacted me this morning and said there was a number they called. The person on the number was pretending to be the home owner. They had a lengthy conversation and several text messages back and forth,” Robinson said. “I turned around and texted the phone number … then his next response was, ‘Yes my house is still available for rent and I will like to know when you are planning to move in.’ It’s crazy … a lot creepy…I’m worried about 1. Somebody getting hurt both physically and financially 2. As a realtor you go into these homes that are vacant. You never know who you’re meeting. I don’t want another realtor to get hurt.”

Never give your credit card or bank account numbers to anyone by phone, text, or e-mail, she said.

Fox 2’s Andy Banker called that Los Angeles number and left a message, identifying himself as a news reporter. A man with a heavy foreign accent returned the call, claimed to be the owner, and asked how interested Mr. Banker was in buying the house. Mr. Banker again told the man he was a reporter. The man then hung up.