KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With the prices of rental homes soaring in East Tennessee, seeing a bargain online can be tempting. However, scam artists are out to take advantage of unsuspecting people who will take their bait.

Stephanie Duncan and Isiah Williams didn’t know one another until they met at a house earlier this month in North Knoxville. Each had found the two-bedroom, 1,000 square-foot home online listed at $500 a month. That’s about $600 below the average listed rental cost for a house that size.

“We’re trying to find a place to live, I went on Facebook Market, that’s where I found the listing for $500 for a month,” Williams said.

“I saw it on Facebook Marketplace,” Duncan said. “It was posted by Andrew Cummings for $500.”

Duncan kept the text messages from Cummings. The messages show he wanted $250 in advance.

“He originally asked me to send it through CashApp,” she said of Cummings. “I said I don’t have Cash App. So he said, ‘Can you meet me in West Knoxville?’ He had me meet him at Check into Cash to give him part of the deposit to secure the house as mine and to take down the listing. So I met him, gave him the money and he was supposed to give me a receipt. And his father was supposed to meet me here at 5 o’clock for the signing and everything.”

But at 5 o’clock that day, the only person at the house was Williams, He was waiting to meet Cummings who never showed up.

“Funny thing is, just before I left work I was talking to one of my friends, he said to make sure it isn’t a scam,” Williams said. “I said it seemed like a legit thing because I talked to the guy on the phone and it seemed legit. Well it turned out my friend was right.”

After calling the number Cummings had given her, she left a message. Within five minutes, she gets a call, but it’s not from Cummings number.

“Why did you just call me back and say you missed my call. You sound like Andrew,” said Duncan on the phone with the number that called back.

“No, my name is Justin,” the voice on the phone says.

The Federal Trade Commission says rental home scams come in many forms including rentals posted on the internet that don’t exist as described, monthly rent that is far below the average price in your area, fake rental ads, and real ads stolen and advertised by the scammer. If you fall for one of these scams file a police report with law enforcement agency immediately.

“I did, I made a police report with Knox County Sheriff,” Duncan said.

Duncan says she’s sent the department text message sent to her from Cummings and his picture. However, she’s not gotten her $250 back. She hopes her mistake of giving the would-be landlord money before she saw the house will be a lesson for others not to repeat.