GASTONIA, N.C. (WJZY) – A North Carolina woman and her family are out more than a thousand dollars, and they could soon be out on the streets because of a rental scam.

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The victim called Gastonia Police.

She says the scammer took all of her money, so even if she can find a new home, she doesn’t know if she can afford it.

Tammy Patterson couldn’t wait to move her family into their new home,

“I was excited, and so were my kids,” said Patterson. “They were laughing, playing, and checking out all of the rooms because it’s got garden tubs, and they were like, ‘Can we take a bath?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, go ahead.'”

She’d been searching for a place for herself, her husband, her mom (who’s sick), and four kids for a year.

“We’re able to afford it, but if you don’t make three times the rent on your paychecks and stuff, they won’t do nothing,” said Patterson.

She went onto hotpads.com and immediately connected with someone about a home for rent on Cassidy Drive in Gastonia.

“The guy’s saying he was the private owner,” said Patterson.

That seemed perfect for Patterson.

She arranged a tour and got a link to a website to get the lockbox code.

“We were able to get the key out, walk into the house, and he told us, ‘Keep the key and go ahead and move on in,” said Patterson.

Looking back, Patterson doesn’t know why she paid the man in Apple gift cards, but she did $1200 worth, and he kept demanding more.

“I said, ‘You’re not getting no more money until you can come here and prove to me that this is all real, that you’re real,” said Patterson.

The fake landlord is now unreachable.

“The thing is, he took all of our money,” said Patterson.

Patterson says the real property managers gave them ten days to get out.

“Scary. I’ve also been crying a lot because it’s also putting us in a situation where we’ve got so long to find a place, and if we don’t have a place, we’ll just be out on the streets,” said Patterson.

Police don’t know how the scammer accessed the lockbox code.

Queen City News reached out to hotpads.com to ask what controls they have to prevent people from using their site to scam others but have yet to hear back from the company.