NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - After moving out of her house and now living with family, Rita Valteau's daughter listed her modest two-bedroom cottage for sale by owner and posted an ad with pictures online.
"It wasn't even perhaps a week later that I started getting phone calls," Jennifer Valteau said. But the callers weren't looking to buy the property. "They were requesting information on the rental that I had, and I'm like ok, I don't have a rental," she said. Jennifer says two different people interested in renting the house noticed a for rent ad on Craigslist and reached out to whoever posted it.
"This person said their name was Charles - Charles Valteau. That's my deceased dad," Jennifer Valteau said. She also explained how the person claiming to be the owner told the interested parties it would be best to communicate via email because he or she was hearing impaired.
Through email and text messages, both interested parties had conversations with the person claiming to be the owner. One message said, "best house in the area, rent $550, $600 for the security deposit and with all utilities included such as cable, gas, electric, water and lawn removal."
"They got washer and dryer. They have the refrigerator. They have the stove - everything. Well that sounds good, you know," Rita said. The older Valteau, like her daughter, was shocked! "That was too good to be true, " she said.
Jennifer says when the interested parties actually drove out to see the home in person, that's when they got her number off the for sale sign in the front yard.
"He said oh, this guy wanted me to Western Union the money, and I was actually in the process of doing it," Jennifer said in talking about one of the interested parties. That caller was going to wire the money to the so-called owner to secure the home to rent.
When she realized her mother's house was part of a scam, Jennifer alerted both callers.
"I've seen the story on FOX 8 Defenders of the scams going on on the west bank here and there," Jennifer said. She says the con artists used details and pictures of the home from her online for sale ad, and they likely got her deceased father's name from public records online at the Assessor's Office.
She filed a police report with the NOPD and can only hope no one else falls victim.