The Skinner family rented a home from a woman claiming to own it, only to meet the real owner after moving in. (the Herald/submitted photo)

The Skinner family rented a home from a woman claiming to own it, only to meet the real owner after moving in. (the Herald/submitted photo)

One Seymour family is out of a home and a great deal of money after a Craigslist scam. The Skinner family placed an ad on the website looking for a rental home with land to house both their family and Guardian Angel Pit Bull Rescue, the program they founded in July of last year.

“She contacted us with a four bedroom house on 15 acres that we could do pretty much anything we want with up there,” said Spencer Skinner, describing how his family came into contact with the woman they believed owned the home.

Skinner says they took as many precautions as they could while engaging with the unnamed woman, including meeting with her on the property a number of times and looking her up online.

“The only thing we didn’t do was check to see if she owned the house because we just never thought of that. We never thought of anybody doing something like this,” said Spencer. “We did check to make sure the house wasn’t in foreclosure. Anything they say on the news to do to make sure you don’t get scammed, we pretty much did it.”

The home the Skinner family lived in for 3 days was fraudulently rented to four other families. (the Herald/WBIR)

The home the Skinner family lived in for 3 days was fraudulently rented to four other families. (the Herald/WBIR)

The Skinners only learned of the fraud when the actual owner of the property arrived on site Monday, Jan 5, and informed them they needed to leave. They had just moved in January 2. The family was genuinely shocked.

“She seemed like a nice woman,” Skinner said, describing the fraudulent homeowner. “She said her husband was a preacher and he’d retired from the Army as an Army Ranger. He had a Class A uniform in his closet with the Ranger tabs on it. I’m in the Guard, so automatically I want to believe them because he was prior military.”

The woman said many things to gain the Skinners’ confidence, including appealing to them on a personal level. According to Skinner, his wife met with the woman several times and had shared many of the details of their situation.

“She knew we had an autistic son and we were trying to start a nonprofit pit bull rescue and had multiple rescue dogs involved, and she still did this,” said Rebecca Skinner. “She said since we were trying to do something so noble, she would help us.”

“She said her son had Asperger’s,” said Spencer Skinner. “We just had a lot in common with this woman.”

For now the Skinners have moved in with Rebecca’s family as they attempt to recoup their losses and find a new home. Skinner was told legal action would definitely be taken against the woman.

“Charges are being pressed. There are four other families involved. From the way I understand it, it’s become a federal charge because she’s taken so much money now,” said Spencer Skinner.

In the meantime, community members interested in helping the Skinners get back on their feet are being directed to a GoFundMe campaign for donations to the family. There is also an ongoing campaign for the Guardian Angel Pit Bull Rescue. All rescued pit bulls are currently being fostered until the Skinners can find a new home.

One Comment

  1. Teri Trantanella says:

    My husband and I looked at this same house the day before Thanksgiving. She said it had 21 acres and that her uncle had built it. We were very interested in purchasing the house and land on a lease option that was offered. After we got home, I looked up the property on the Tn Tax Assessor website and discovered that the property was owned by a different person that lived in Florida and only had 7.5 acres. The property had also been bought and sold 3-4 times since built, so we began checking further into the property. Her story didn’t add up and after doing our due dilegence we felt it was a scam and called the Blount County Sheriff’s department the day after Thanksgiving. They said they couldn’t do anything until money had changed hands. Perhaps if they would have investigated our allegations after we called, these people and the 4 other families, would not have lost their money. It’s a shame this had to happen to good people and we feel the sheriff’s office should have at least looked into it.

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