Woman Duped Into Paying Deposit on North Texas Home

Every single day more than 200 people are moving to Dallas-Fort Worth. That accounts for 6,000 new residents each month.

They're all looking for that perfect place to live, and even though more homes and apartments are being built all over the area, inventory is low. People like Shauna Ziemba are having a hard time finding a place to live.

"My husband and I, when we got to Texas, we were staying with some friends and looking for a rental," Ziemba said.

One home in Mansfield finally popped up on her online search. It was still available, listed for a good price and fit what they were looking for.

"The person says, 'I'm not available to show you to the property, but if you want to drive over I'll give you the code to go and get into the rental,'" Ziemba said.

Ziemba was able to let herself into the home with that code, fell in love with the place, and filled out an application online.

She then wired the money.

"We did an auto transfer from my bank in Massachusetts direct into Chase," Ziemba said.

She paid her deposit – the first three months' rent – wiring it to the landlord. She asked if she was good to move in and never got an answer.

That's when panic soon set in. Ziemba raced back to the bank.

"I met with the manager and said, 'Can you at least look at the account?' He said, 'You've been scammed. This is a fraudulent account,'" Ziemba said.

She called the police in Mansfield who tried to work with the bank to track the money. Ziemba said the bank manager told her she'd get a refund.

"It hadn't been transferred. It was set up to do a transfer to another account in New York, actually. He told me the money was still there," Ziemba said.

But spokespeople for Chase Bank tell NBC 5 Responds it was too late.

"The money had been transferred out of the account first thing in the morning. We hope Ms. Ziemba can work with police to find the thieves," the bank said in a statement.

"It's a lot of money. It changed the dynamics of our whole living situation moving cross country. I get wicked emotional when it comes to this part, because it has affected us – $4,500 is a lot of money just to be stolen," Ziemba said.

Police are still working with the bank to try to track down the money, but that's often difficult to do. When Ziemba realized what went wrong it was too late.

There's several things you should know from her situation:

First, meet with a landlord face to face before you sign a deal on a house. At least know where they live or work and how to get a hold of them. Police are still trying to figure out how this person obtained a lock box code to so Ziemba could go inside that house. But codes are given to contractors and real estate agents and can sometimes can be sold or passed along to a scammer.

Also, if you're doing a wire transfer, the bank is not responsible for knowing that the account is valid. People can open bank accounts online with fake information, receive money and then close the account. Sometimes they never leave a trace of their true identity.

Lastly, having a real estate agent or apartment hunter does help protect you. You don't pay for their services, and it's yet another layer of protection if something were to go wrong.

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