DENVER -- A woman trying to rent her home couldn't believe a Craigslist scammer had the nerve to tell her to be sympathetic to their situation and they're "just trying to make a few bucks" after stealing photos of her home for a fake ad.
Dana Samartine is trying to rent her family's home at 632 S. Lincoln St. She listed the property on Zillow. Then, a potential buyer contacted her asking why her rental property was listed at a cheaper price on Craigslist.
"I went on Craigslist myself and I opened up this ad, and I saw pictures of my house and my description, my words, my everything," Samartine said.
The scammer tells people they're out of town and can't do a showing, but prospective renters can drive by the property and peek into the windows. People have been showing up to the home.
"We were scared. We have a little one. We don't want people looking in our windows," Samartine said.
The scammer instructs people to fill out a form online that includes personal information such as a Social Security number.
The scammer then tells buyers they need to pay the security deposit up front. Samartine said in Denver's hot rental market, prospective renters are so desperate to find a place for a good deal, they let their guard down.
"It's just terrible what he is doing to these people," Samartine said. "In some ways, it's almost believable. The way he is writing these things, he sounds like an actual person talking to someone about renting out the house. He is talking like a landlord."
Samartine contacted the scammer, who responded by saying, "Dana, it's nice to meet you. I need to use your home to make a few bucks, you know?"
"I responded, 'Are you serious? Go get a job and stop using people for your scams,'" Samartine said.
The scammer went on to tell Samartine, "Please understand my situation."
"It's almost funny. Is this guy for real? But he is. He really is," Samartine said.
The scammer told Samartine they would take the fake ads down if Samartine sent money. Samartine is turning to Craigslist, hoping the website will intervene and take down the ads.
"Ever since this has happened, we haven't had any responses about the house. We are closing on a new house and we need to rent out this one to be able to afford the mortgage and we haven't had any responses since," Samartine said.
Samartine contacted the Denver Police Department but was told there was little officers could do.