Victim Speaks Out About Complex Foreclosure Rental Scam - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Victim Speaks Out About Complex Foreclosure Rental Scam

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KENNEWICK, WA. -- Over the last few days, we've told you about a local foreclosure rental scam with victims as far away as Spokane.

On Friday, one of those victims who is losing thousands, is speaking out and telling NBC Right Now how complex this scam was. 

Travis Herndon says he'll have trouble trusting anyone ever again after what Maggie Zieske and Steve Hartmann allegedly did to his family. Police tell us they believe the couple would break into foreclosed or vacant homes, change the locks, and then rent the homes themselves.

Herndon says this scam was professional and complex, and his family is losing thousands because of it.

Travis Herndon thought he had found his family's home for years to come. They bought new appliances, fixed the bathtub, put hours of work and thousands of dollars into their new life. 

"Our lifetime home," Travis Herndon said. "Something my kids could come back to when they were adults."

Before all that, Herndon was in talks for months with this woman identifying herself as Maggie Lawson. Herndon thought the rent to own agreement she was offering seemed very cheap. So he looked into it. 

"Three months of my own research and looking through things, doing research on her and her background," Herndon told us. 

But the scam was extremely complex. Maggie even had Herndon meet with a man who impersonated a realtor. 

"I met somebody I thought was a realtor," Herndon said. "But I don't know where that person is now. And the number I used to call them doesn't work."

Convinced the deal was real, Herndon moved in his family of three kids and three dogs. Soon enough, letters from the bank starting coming in saying the home was foreclosed. Herndon knew something was wrong, and collected every conversation or document he had from Maggie and turned it over to Kennewick Police.

"And so when I gave that to the police, it was less than 24 hours and they were in jail," Herndon said. "So yeah I believe that what I turned in is what put them there."

Herndon says he's losing at least $10,000 with rent costs and repairs he made around the home. Even though they can stay in the home through Christmas, the holidays are ruined. 

"Holidays are on hold," Herndon said. "You know I can't go out and buy that $200 dinner because I can't afford it. We have to save that money."

Travis doesn't know what his family will do now. Even though the two masterminds are in jail thanks in part to his help, Travis can't help but hold a grudge.

"The emotions I have, I can't even put into words," Herndon said. "The things that I've put my family through and the things that they've done and made me put my family through. The only thing I feel is anger. I don't know what to do."

Herndon has started a Go Fund Me account to help other families like his who have fallen victim to this widespread scam. He told me he plans to split the money equally with any victim he can find.

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