RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A Richmond couple feels duped out of more than $2,000 after they paid a deposit to rent a home on the southside and never saw the keys.
The Better Business Bureau told 8News the couple’s story sounds like classic rental fraud. The couple is now warning others to be aware when renting or buying a home.
They’re now scrambling under a 30-day notice on their current home, trying to find a place for them and their three kids to live, after they paid thousands of dollars just to never get access to a new rental.
“If I don’t have a place to stay, I have no internet, that means I can’t work, so I can’t provide for my family, so that’s how this is affecting me the most,” Jamikka Barham said, holding back tears.
They said a man identifying himself as James Hopkin called them after they saw a southside home available on compass.com. The couple told 8News he sold them a dream. That dream, they said, quickly turned sour after they signed a four-page lease.
“We made the first payment, then the second one to get the keys, but we never received the keys,” Barham’s husband Dazmie Johnson said.
Everything was to happen over the phone, online and through the mail, including the transactions.
There were three payments in all — a deposit, first month’s rent and in confusion, the couple mistakenly sent another month’s rent, totaling over two-grand.
Hopkin asked them to make the check out to someone named Max Smith, Jr., mail it to a Michigan address and send Venmo payments to a Joy Becker.
Since then, all that’s come from him, they said, is excuses. “Oh, don’t think I’m a bad person, you know, I really want to work with you guys. Just let me know how I can rectify the situation for you, but, of course, this is where we are,” Barham said.
“It was all until he got the money. Once he got the money, it was no more,” Johnson said.
Realtor.com confirmed with 8News, the home is for sale and the listing agent told the couple they have no idea who Hopkin is.
8News reached out to Hopkin with no answer, but we did get one text message back from Hopkin, who asked us to text him back. We did and are waiting on a reply.
For now, the couple is continuing to stay positive.
“It’s a bad situation that we’re in, but you just have to pick up and keep moving,” Barham said.
The couple said they have filed claims with Venmo, their credit card company and a fraud company.
For more information on rental fraud from the BBB, click here.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.