Two individuals became victims of a rental fraud scam over the past week after responding to a posting on the popular "CraigsList" website, according to the Sarasota Police Department.
In both instances the victims responded to advertisements posted on Craigslist and arranged to meet with a rental agent to see the properties. The perpetrators showed the property to the potential renters and collected cash deposits from them. These "renters" were told they could occupy the residence once they had been cleaned.
According to the a press release from the police department:
The first incident occurred on Dec. 4 at a home located in the 1600 block of 32nd Street. The victim contacted an individual on the telephone that identified himself as Gary. The victim agreed to meet Gary that afternoon to walk through the house and if she wanted to rent the home put down a deposit. When the victim arrived at the home she was met by an individual that identified herself as Summer King or Kung. The victim gave $325 in cash as a partial deposit, signed a lease and received a key. She was told she could move in after the house was cleaned and the remainder of the security deposit was paid. When the victim returned to the home on Dec. 5, she discovered the lock on the door had been changed, and that the house had not been for rent.
The second case occurred on Dec. 7 at a home located in the 2000 block of Central Avenue. The victims contacted an individual on the telephone that identified himself as “John Dougan”. The victims agreed to meet John at the home. The victims paid $600 in cash and received a rental contract. The victims realized they had been scammed when they learned that the property had not been available to rent. Within a short period of time three other couples arrived at the home looking for “Dougan” to potentially rent the home. The victim and the other couples all contacted “Dougan” after seeing the home listed on Craigslist. “John Dougan” is described as a black, male, 5’10” – 6’00”, medium build. He was described as wearing a brown kangaroo hat with gold band, white shirt, tan shorts and sandals. He was unshaven with a goatee and a single gold tooth. When the victims tried to contact the rental agent (Dougan or Summer) they found the phones had been disconnected.
It is recommended that prior to reaching a rental agreement that potential renters verify that the party renting to them is a reputable agent or owner and never give cash as a deposit. Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to contact Detective Carter at 941-954-7088.