Valrico family fighting for dream home — allegedly owned by a 'Mr. Lucky' — after falling for rental scam

Noemy Gonzalez and her husband thought they found the perfect house in Valrico to rent for their family of six while scrolling through Facebook marketplace.

It was a three bedroom, two bath with a one-year lease of $1,350 a month including all utilities, cable, WiFi, and water.

That's when they began communicating with a supposed landlord who went by the name of Mr. Winston Lucky.

"First, we talked through text and Facebook messenger and then he gave me his phone number," Gonzalez recalled. "I was having a conversation with a man."

Mr. Lucky gave them a door code and allowed them to see the place before they rented, but never showed his own face. The Gonzalez family loved the place and took it.

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The lease was sent and signed via email while a security deposit and first month’s rent were sent via Zelle to two different email addresses each time before they officially moved in August 19.

Noemy said they were living there for about two days when the air conditioner broke. When they made Mr. Lucky aware, he tried to get them to pay a service fee to send a repairman out there despite what the lease said.

That's when they confided in their neighbor, Lisette Davila.

"Mr. Lucky was trying to get them to pay an additional $200 to send someone here to fix the AC," Davila said. "I noticed they were calling multiple numbers to get a hold of him, one even said 'Potential Scam' when he called."

Photo: Notice to vacate sent to the Gonzalez family

Notice to vacate sent to the Gonzalez family

She added that he was being very hostile, and gave them a strange email to Zelle the money too, and even said he'd accept an Amazon gift card as payment. That's when Lisette realized - and confirmed - this was a scam.

The home never belonged to anyone named "Mr. Lucky."

"I followed up with a family member who said not to provide any more money because it is a scam, and a company named, Progress Residential, is actually the management company and owner of the home," Lisette said.

The home is currently listed as 'move-in ready' on Progress Residential's website. It’s believed the scammer used the listing’s photos to create his own ad, luring Noemy's family in with a too-good-to-be-true price.

Photo: The Valrico home the family moved into

The Valrico home the family moved into

Noemy explained the situation to Progress, and applied for a lease but was declined. She's now being told her family has to leave.

"Someone from Progress Residential handed me a letter saying they needed us to vacate immediately or they were going to get the law involved," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said they have nowhere to go if evicted. She said they are in the process of applying to live in other homes, but it's taking a while.

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In a statement to FOX 13, Progress Residential wrote:

"We have a dedicated team focused on researching and investigating any reports of fraudulent activity or potential scams. While we don't comment on specific cases, it is our practice to work with individuals impacted to offer options and solutions to resolve these issues, including the option of securing a progress home through our process."  

Noemy and her family say they also filed a police report with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.