Police investigating bizarre Craigslist scam involving fake leases

Be careful who you trust when dealing with real estate listings on Craigslist.

Henrico Police are searching for a suspect in a bizarre Craigslist scam involving fake leases on a property in the county.

The suspect in the incident responded to an ad for rental property on Craigslist. The suspect signed a one year lease, paid a deposit along with one month’s rent in advance and was given a key to the house.

A few days later the individual subsequently copied the original posting for the house and reposted it on Craigslist for a lower rent rate. Potential renters responded to the advertisement and met with the suspect, who would then require the victims to provide $20.00 for a background check.

The suspect called the potential renters back and advised them they had passed the fake background check and that if they wanted the house, it was still available.

Police say potential renters–four known at this time–then met with the suspect, signed a bogus lease, and provided the suspect with one month’s rent in cash. The suspect then provided a key to the house to each victim and advised victims they could move in on the 10th of January.

On the date of their supposed move in, the victims went to the house under the impression that they would be allowed access to the property, only to find other renters attempting to do the same. None of the keys worked and the victims called the suspect, only to find the phone number was no longer in service.

The suspect pictured is described as a black male, in his late 30s to early 40s, 5’7,” 180 pounds, with a scruffy salt and pepper beard.

Surveillance footage shows the suspect wearing a denim baseball cap with an American flag on it, unbuttoned shirt with a white t-shirt under it, khaki pants, and running shoes. The involved vehicle is described as a light colored Nissan Altima with a black leather interior. The vehicle possibly displayed 30-day West Virginia tags.

Henrico County Police seek the public’s assistance in identifying and locating the suspect. Anyone with information regarding this crime is asked to contact Henrico Police at 804.501.5000 or Crime Stoppers at 804.780.1000.

You can also text Crime Stoppers at 274637, using the key word “iTip” followed by your tip.  Both Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson loves all things Richmond and manages RVANews’ West of the Boulevard and West End community sites.

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