KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville mother and daughter say a man scammed them out of $2,800 dollars. He told them he was renting a property that he did not actually own.
The alleged crime happened on West Moody Avenue.
Hazel Walker and her daughter, Leondra Walker, say they were looking for a rental property when they saw a real estate agent in front of 132 W. Moody Avenue.
The man was driving a black BMW with a magnetic sign that said realtor. He said his name was "Bryant."
They did not question him when he said he was renting the property and did not think there was an issue when he would not allow them inside.
"He said the floors wasn't down," said Leondra Walker. "The floor wasn't finished and he doesn't want to use the insurance money in case somebody got hurt."
The man said if they wanted to rent the property he would need the down payment then. That is when they handed over $2,800 in cash.
"We gave him the money," explained Hazel Walker. "He got in the car to get the receipt and he sped off."
They then called the Knoxville Police Department.
"We thought we could trust him, that he would do the right thing by us," Hazel Walker said.
The Walkers were able to get in contact with the real owner of the home. He told them it has been empty for ten years.
Keli Randolph, a Knoxville Police investigator who is handling the case, says there are things you can do to avoid being a victim.
"Probably a key tip in this one is the fact that they were not allowed to look at the property they were going to be renting, no rental sign," said Randolph. "The fact that his real estate sign did not provide a real estate agency."
Randolph says cases like these happen frequently.
"We might get a complaint about this in the office about once a month," she said. "A lot of times it's from victims outside the area or someone who lives in Knoxville who has attempted to rent a property in another state or another area."
Randolph says most of the time there are red flags that prevent people from exchanging money.
The Walkers just want justice, and they have a message for the man who took their money.
"God bless your heart, sweetheart," said Leondra Walker. "I hope you don't corrupt yourself, so that you can't find yourself ever again."
Knoxville police also say it is important to be careful when looking for rental properties online. They say websites like Craigslist are potential areas for being scammed.
They say the best thing you can do is find a real estate business that has an actual office.
If you have any information on rental scams like what happened to the Walkers you are asked to call the Knoxville Police Department at (865) 215-7212.