Tulsa Woman Reports Craigslist Rental Scam

Friday, August 20th 2010, 6:19 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6 

TULSA, OK -- In a new twist on a familiar scam, people from out of the country are still trying to rent out properties in Green Country they don't own and have never seen.

But now, they've figured out a way to make it more convincing than ever.

"It's very sickening," said property owner Dina Ledbetter.

Dina Ledbetter owns a home in Bixby and has rented it to the same family for the past two years. So, imagine her surprise when strangers showed up, asking to see inside because they'd seen it listed for rent Craigslist.

"I think by making it a low price, in a school district that's appealing and hard to get good rental property in, people really wanted it to be true and felt a sense of urgency," Ledbetter said.

The person who created the Craigslist advertisement said he'd been transferred to Africa because he's a missionary.

Dina Ledbetter, Property Owner: "Talked a lot about God, quoted scripture."
Lori Fullbright, The News On 6: "Makes you sick."
Dina Ledbetter, Property Owner: "It's very sickening. Said his wife was in ill health; she'd had a miscarriage."
Lori Fullbright, The News On 6: "They'll use anything to get our money."
Dina Ledbetter, Property Owner: "He used every sympathy card."

Here's the new twist that made this scam seem more convincing that most: the scammer created a fake email account using the actual homeowner's name.

"They used my husband's legal name, which is not what he goes by," said rental property owner Dina Ledbetter. "They set it up on Yahoo."

These are signs of a scam:

  • Any mention of Africa, Nigeria, London or Canada.
  • Bad grammar, talk of mission work and wiring money.

Even though there's nothing local police can do, Dina filed a police report, just in case someone actually sent money.

"We certainly didn't want them to think we had taken their money and ran, and didn't want somebody to show up with a U-Haul," she said. "Cause he says, send me the money, and I'll send you the keys."

Which, of course, he doesn't have.

Always double and triple check before giving up money.