“Inheritance” scammers plans squashed by savvy homeowners 

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

A retired couple was shocked in mid July after they got a knock on their door from people with a moving truck saying they had just inherited their house in Steiner Ranch.

On Tuesday, July 18, the Steiner couple had just finished dinner and heard a knock around 7:30 p.m. 

“It’s not common to have someone knock at our door because we’re in a gated community,” she said. The couple moved from Houston to Steiner 10 years ago because they wanted to live at Lake Austin and be closer to children and grandchildren in Cedar Park. 

That July night, her husband looked out the window and saw a man standing there. Thinking it was an Amazon delivery man, he went to the door. 

“He had on gloves, so he thought, you know, it was the delivery guy,” she said. The couple did not want to share their names after this incident.

Once they opened the door, they noticed in addition to the man, there was also a lady in a sundress. The two were younger, in their 30s or 40s, and appeared to be nicely dressed. The lady spoke and after she confirmed the address, she said, “Well, I just inherited this house.”

The Steiner couple was taken aback. “No you didn’t,” the homeowner said. The lady then goes on to verify his name. “If you think you inherited this house, come back with your lawyer,” the husband said. “You need to have a lawyer call me.”

By that point, the couple was feeling uncomfortable and asked the strangers to leave. “He asked her three times to leave the property and she just answered back, ‘I inherited this house.’”

Then the homeowner grabbed her phone and said, “I’m calling 911. You need to get off my property.”

Then the Steiner couple noticed the white Penske moving truck parked in their driveway, it was backed in. They saw two other older people standing in the driveway near the truck. 

This group of at least four  people was not leaving so she called 911. 

The dispatcher asked for details, descriptions and ages.

“I said we feel very threatened. I said there’s four of them and only two of us and we’ve asked them to leave and they’re not,” said the homeowner. “Basically more or less the whole time I’m on the call with 911, they are still sitting there… and finally we see them leave.”

Then the dispatcher asked which direction they went. The homeowner shared, “I can’t see Quinlan from where I am but there’s only one way in and one way out of Steiner. If they turn right they’re going to end up at the lake. If they turn left, they’ll go to 620.” 

Travis County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the house in about 10 minutes while another officer pulled the moving truck over before they got out of Steiner.  

TCSO detained the people in the truck and asked how they got into the gated community. They said the HOA gave them the code, but during the investigation afterwards, TCSO found out that that was not the case.

While they still had the people in the Penske truck detained, the TCSO officer said, “‘Show me the (house) key.” And the lady in the sundress says, “We don’t have a key.” The officer said, “How are you going to get in?” And she said, “It’s not against the law to break into your own home.”

“She had an answer for everything but it didn’t line up. It just didn’t make sense,” the officer said.

A criminal trespassing report was filed and then if they step one foot on the property again, they can be arrested immediately, the officer said.

After the investigation which took more than a week, TCSO shared that four separate attempts were made July 13 through July 17 to get the gate code from the HOA. The nefarious people not only called but sent emails with attached deeds to make it appear the property was theirs but the deeds had different addresses nowhere close to Steiner Ranch.

The officer told the Steiner couple that one of the men had an ID with the same name as the husband and that he suspects that “they were hoping the couple wasn’t home, then they were going to break in and if police showed up, they would show the ID.”

TCSO spokesperson Kristen Dark shared, “The homeowners in this situation did precisely the right thing. They called 911 immediately, and deputies were able to assess the situation.”

The couple still loves Steiner Ranch and their home but continue to be a bit rattled by the situation.

“As it was unfolding, it was a little bit traumatizing. We don’t really get solicitors because of the gates and so to find somebody to come in and tell you that ‘this is my house, I inherited and I’m moving in,’… yeah it is traumatizing,” the wife said. “We are very thankful that we weren’t harmed physically in any way, but it was very unsettling.”