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Renters scammed out of more than $5K by fake real-estate agent in the Bronx

Posted at 4:21 PM, Mar 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-24 16:30:16-04

THE BRONX (PIX11) — Police are looking for a woman they said posed as a real estate agent and scammed three would-be renters out of more than $5,000 with a bogus Craigslist ad.

The suspect, describe as a woman in her 20s, posted an ad on Craigslist for a basement apartment for rent on Van Nest Avenue in the Bronx. The interested buyers say they all spoke to a man when they responded to the ad, who instructed them to meet his alleged daughter.

Police say this woman scammed would-be renters out of thousands for a phoney apartment. (Photo: DCPI)

Police say this woman scammed would-be renters out of thousands for a phoney apartment. (Photo: DCPI)

On Feb. 25, the woman met with a 29-year-old male victim, who handed over a $2,850 deposit. On Feb. 28, a 27-year-old woman gave the fake real-estate agent a $1,900 deposit. A 28-year-old woman then gave the suspect two $500 money orders for a deposit.

After handing over their money, all three victims were unable to contact the “broker” and couldn’t get the cash back.

Craigslist warns users to be wary when renting apartments through their ads. From the site:

You receive an email or text (examples below) offering to buy your item, pay for your services in advance, or rent your apartment, sight unseen and without meeting you in person.

A cashier’s check is offered for your sale item as a deposit for an apartment or for your services.

Value of cashier’s check often far exceeds your item—scammer offers to “trust” you, and asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service.

Banks will cash fake checks AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE WHEN THE CHECK FAILS TO CLEAR, sometimes including criminal prosecution.

Scams often pretend to involve a 3rd party (shipping agent, business associate, etc.).

Deal often seems too good to be true, price is too low, or rent is below market, etc.

Scam “bait” items include apartments, laptops, TVs, cell phones, tickets, other high value items.

Scammer may (falsely) claim a confirmation code from you is needed before he can withdraw your money.

Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, UK, Netherlands—but could be anywhere.

Rental may be local, but owner is “travelling” or “relocating” and needs you to wire money abroad.

Scammer may pretend to be unable to speak by phone (scammers prefer to operate by text/email).

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.