Friday, January 20, 2017

SW Florida Man Gets Pinched For Allegedly Fleecing Would-Be Tenant Out Of $1,500 In Craigslist Rent Scam; Cops Use Victim's Smartphone Video Recording To Finger Suspect

In Lee County, Florida, WFTX-TV Channel 4 reports:
  • The Lee County Sheriff's Office is warning people about a rental scam becoming more popular in southwest Florida, and Four in Your Corner spoke to one woman who fell victim to it.

    Stephanie Erausquin saw a home available for rent on Craigslist. She recorded a video of herself signing the lease. She's now out $1,500 due to a scam, but the video allowed the Lee County Sheriff's Office to make an arrest.

    "It sounds perfect. It was a four bedroom, two bathroom. The price was good for me. Just perfect," she said.

    She and Lee County deputies said she was scammed by Jamie Jenks of North Fort Myers, but Erausquin knew him by a different name: Scott Lacey.

    Erausquin said at first, he seemed legitimate. He prepared a lease that was similar to one she'd signed to rent a home before, complete with how much rent would be and what days it would be due.

    Jenks, acting as "Scott Lacey" told her his aunt owned the house. Once Erausquin paid him a deposit and the first month's rent, she started to move her stuff in. That's when she said Jenks started acting strange about when she could finish moving in. Erausquin decided to take a video of him. "Just in case. You never know," she said.

    To make matters worse, when she was at the house one day, the actual homeowner showed up. "She's asking me 'What the hell are you doing?' I was like 'What do you mean, I'm moving in, this is my house,'" Erausquin said.

    She called the Lee County Sheriff's Office. Their Fraud Specialist said stories like Erausquin's spiked last year.

    "We had well over 60 calls just into the fraud line about this, and I know that's certainly not all of them," Beth Schell said.

    "I was crying. I was in tears. I didn't have anywhere to go. My night was to stay in my car," Erausquin said.

    She said her last text from Jenks before he was arrested said if she wanted her money back, he'd see her in court, and she told Four in Your Corner she can't wait to see him come February 6th.

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