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Sheriff's office, Better Business Bureau warn of housing scam on the rise in Houston County

The Houston County Sheriff's Office says you should never send payments through an app

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — The Houston County Sheriff's Office this week warned people about housing scams targeting renters.

Rashunkedra Walker says that scam became her reality.

"The first house I found, he lied about how many bedrooms it was and wouldn't send me any pictures of that house other than what was online," she said.

Walker says she saw an ad on Zillow that led her to believe the offer was legit.

"The people I thought were the owners of the house, I guess, they previously looked in the house and knew the code to the lock for the key, because we did get to meet," she said about the scammers, but it got sketchy quickly.

"He wanted me to send the deposit for the house and sign the lease, but he didn't want to let me look on the inside," she said.

Walker signed what she believed was a lease, putting her Social Security number on paper and handing over $700.

"When I messaged him about when I could move in, my number was blocked -- it was one of the numbers I was contacting was a text-free number," she said.

Kevin Collins with the Better Business Bureau says paying through an app is one of the worst things you can do.

"Once you send that money with a wire transfer or those prepaid debit cards, it's really gone, you’re never going to see it again," he said, and there may be little protection.

“So it's really depending upon the way you send the money. A bank app, a CashApp, or something like that, you need to look at the protections you have to get your money back," Collins explained.

Now that she’s coming out on the other side, Walker has a word of caution for those who could be in her position.

"Do your research, ask around about the house, maybe someone else has looked into it," she said.

The Houston County Sheriff's Office warns people to be careful and never pay a security deposit or rent through an app. Walker says she's started a cupcake business to try to recoup some of the money she lost.