Welcome to The Home Equity Theft Reporter, a blog dedicated to informing the consumer public and the legal profession about Home Equity Theft issues. This blog will consist of information describing the various forms of Home Equity Theft and links to news reports & other informational sources from throughout the country about the victims of Home Equity Theft and what government authorities and others are doing about it.
Monday, January 30, 2017
On Eve Of Eviction, Soon-To-Be-Booted Tenant Runs Craigslist Rent Scam, Snatches Cash Out Of Victim's Hand & Makes Run For It; Cops Collar Suspect Within 24 Hours After Recovering His Cell Phone Fumbled Away During Getaway
In Tampa, Florida, ABC Action News reports:
A Tampa family is out a deposit for a new place to live after a con man admitted to ripping them off in a rental scam.
Stephanie Dunbar and Daniel Arizmendi were looking for a new home, leaving behind their cramped two-bedroom apartment.
The couple care for three children together, one of whom is disabled, suffering from an intraventricular hemorrhage as a newborn.
They found the home at 10904 N. 22nd St. to be a perfect fit. "It was enough room for our kids, for our disabled son to have his own room with his medical supplies, where he would be able to be comfortable," said Dunbar.
The engaged couple immediately responded to an ad on Craigslist, featuring a single-story, four bedroom house with reasonable rent. They received a tour of the property the very next day. "He came totally dressed right as if he was actually a real real estate agent," said Daniel Arizmendi.
That agent was nothing more than a con man, according to Hillsborough County investigators.
Lenard Woolbright actually lived at the house and was in the process of being evicted.
But before he was kicked out, Woolbright posted a phony ad providing a lease, business cards, and his driver's license in a show of good faith.
Dunbar said Woolbright was convincing and she had no reason not to believe he was a legitimate real estate agent. "It was like the clouds opened up and told us to get this house," said Dunbar.
The couple met Woolbright the next day at a Winn-Dixie parking lot on Fowler Street to get the keys and pay a $1,000 deposit. But before Woolbright handed over the keys, he snatched the cash right out of Dunbar's hand and took off.
"You took from a needy family and now you have a record, for a few hundred bucks. There's no sense to that," said Dunbar.
Woolbright dropped his cell phone in the parking lot during his getaway, reporting it stolen the next day.
Deputies were able to quickly track him down thanks to his report and made an arrest within 24 hours of Dunbar telling HCSO what happened.
Investigators were able to recover about half of the family's deposit, but the hard-working couple is struggling to save enough money again for a home they desperately need.
"It has set us back drastically and it was kind of pretty much everything we had," said Dunbar. "We were putting everything into this house."
Woolbright faces a felony charge of third-degree grand theft.
CBC News: Betrayal of Trust (A CBC investigation reveals how lawyers across Canada have misappropriated and mishandled clients money, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, or sometimes even charging vulnerable people top dollar for shoddy services)
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