Wilmington family left homeless after reportedly falling victim to housing scam

Updated: Apr. 17, 2019 at 9:43 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Paula Grado and her family of nine say they were scammed out of $1,900 when they tried to rent a home last month.

Grado found the two bedroom home on Facebook marketplace, Craiglist, Zillow and Trula; all under the same name. When her family went to the home to see it in person, neighbors told her the owner of the home hadn’t been around for a while now.

On the surface, the story added up with what the scammer told her about his recent move to Texas.

“It kind of seems too good to be true but when we talked to the neighbors and said ‘Do you know Tony?’ Not knowing the person that was scamming us took his name and was using his name," said Grado.

Grado paid the scammer using Bitcoin, which made the transaction nearly impossible to trace.

Since the scam, Grado gave birth to a new baby girl, Deborah, while also taking care of her two young children. Her children and her Grado’s parents and brother have been staying in hotels around Wilmington in the meantime. She said they can’t afford to live in the hotel they are in now.

“We have no idea where we’re going to go tomorrow,” said Grado.

Wilmington police are currently looking into Grado’s case and say they have seen an uptick in housing scams.

Police say its best avoid making payments through any money sharing apps and to always meet your potential landlord or seller in person. They also recommend keeping a detailed record of your interactions and to never give out personal information.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the Grado Family.

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