'We have nowhere to go': St. Augustine family loses thousands to Craigslist rental scam

A local family said they have until Saturday to move out of their home.  The family also said they have no place to go.

Tom Markovich and his son, Nicholas, found the home on Craigslist. They spent thousands of dollars, only to find out it was a scam.

The home is on Prince Phillip Drive in St. Augustine.  Tom Markovich said he gave $2,000 in money orders for rent to the person who he thought was the owner.

Then, after moving in, someone came to show the home to another tenant.

“She said that, ‘American Homes [4 Rent] owns this house and you don't belong here.’  I then showed her a copy of my lease.  She said it's a bogus lease,” Tom Markovich said.  ‘You got scammed.”

The actual tenants are moving in Saturday, so the Markovich's have to be out.

They showed Action News Jax the eviction paperwork they said they were served.

“My son suffers from special needs,” Tom Markovich said.  “He suffers from seizures, cerebral palsy.  I can't put him out in the street.”

American Homes 4 Rent has signs warning of possible scams in the home, but Markovich said he didn't think anything of it, especially since the Craigslist renter knew the code for the box to retrieve the keys.

Action News Jax spoke with a local realtor who said many companies rotate between the same few codes.

As of Wednesday evening, the ad was still up on Craigslist, saying, “It won't last long!”

Action News Jax Reporter Russell Colburn didn't get the alleged scammer on the phone Tuesday, but Wednesday, he received a text from the number that just said "OK.”

Colburn wrote back, “Any comment on accusations you're scamming people?"

They wrote, "Nothing so far," and haven't responded since.

American Homes 4 Rent referred Action News Jax to their legal team for comment Tuesday, and we still haven’t heard back.

“We have nowhere to go,” Markovich said.  “We have no support, and I don't have a penny, because I put over $3,000 into this house.”


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