Veteran experiencing homelessness says he fell for rental home scam

CONCORD, N.C. — A veteran who is experiencing homelessness and living in the woods says he and his brother lost thousands of dollars in a rental scam.

Charley Blissit Jr. once served in Iraq. Now, years later, he’s living in the woods in Concord.

Blissit said that he has enough money to rent a place but because he has bad credit and a criminal record it’s hard to find housing, especially in a competitive market such as the Charlotte area.

“All we’re doing is asking God for a miracle,” he told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.

He thought he’d received that miracle when his brother found a rental house online. He said a scammer posing as the owner had the security code to the house and gave it to his brother. “He was actually able to go inside and check it out for himself, and he showed me the pictures and I was like, ‘Let’s do this,’” he said.

They paid the scammer more than $2,000 through Zelle, but he eventually found out it was a con.

“When this happened … (we’re) back to square one. But what’s the next step because we don’t know,” Blissit said.

Action 9's Jason Stoogenke talks to Charley Blissit Jr.

Blissit said he reported the scam to police and Stoogenke told the real owner of the house, American Homes 4 Rent, about this. The company rents out a lot of homes in the area.

Stoogenke went by the house and found a fraud warning on the front door.

The company emailed Action 9 the following statement:

“American Homes 4 Rent has a wide range of procedures and tools in place to counter and reduce the risk of rental fraud, including but not limited to partnering with industry affiliates to reduce fraud, prominently branding and identifying homes, and employing a team dedicated to identifying, tracking, and reporting suspected fraud to authorities. We are continuously evaluating and enhancing our technological safeguards to deter fraudulent activity, such as utilizing geofencing technology and restricting repeated access based on pre-established parameters. We strive to educate consumers on how to avoid rental fraud and continue to work with technology, listing, and industry partners to root out fraud and enhance protections.”

(Watch below: Charlotte City Council could make it easier for some to find affordable housing)