Scammers target victims looking to rent through Craigslist
The Cadillac Police Department says that scammers are finding homes in the area that are for sale, and posting them on Craigslist as their own for people to rent, with a goal to get victims to send them money.
Lt. Todd Golnick says they've had about four of these scams in the last month, and that it's possible they could be connected. He says it's an extremely difficult investigation because they believe the scammers are from out of the country.
"We can consult with federal agencies to see if they have similar ones that they are working on but when these types of things happen they are typically not going to be resolved because of the large geographic area," said Golnick.
The most recent investigation started last weekend when people from Coldwell Banker reported that they were getting phone calls from people asking about a Cadillac home, 409 Leeson Avenue, that was listed to rent on Craigslist. Brenda Cronan is the real estate broker selling the foreclosed home and called the police when she started getting the calls.
"I've advised everybody to file a complaint with the city so they have all of the information, emails, and the texts," said Cronan.
Jacklyn Holman was one of the victims. She, her husband, and three small children live with her grandparents and have been saving money, and searching the internet to find a place of their own to rent for the last six months. She found the house on Craigslist on February 26, and got in contact with the seller.
"I took the name that he had given me and I looked it up online to see who this person was, if they had actually owned the house," said Holman. "And when I looked it up online it said that this was an actual person who lived in our town and that they had lived at that house,"
Like many other people, Holman exchanged emails, text messages and information with the scammer. She was also asked to fill out an application with basic information like where she worked, current address, phone number, and how long she wanted to rent the home for.
The scammer approved Holman's application, and then asked her to purchase a Green Dot money card (prepaid credit card) for the amount of $400.00. She agreed, gave the scammer the card information, and then never heard from him again.
"He knew that I had kids," said Holman. "And having three little kids and $400.00....that's a lot."
Investigators say they are confident that the person behind the scam is not the actual previous home owner, despite using that person's name. Cronan says the previous home owner on the foreclosed house has absolutely nothing to do with the home anymore.
The add on Craigslist was removed over the weekend.
If anyone comes across this scam, contact a local police agency.