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Craigslist scam targeting renters in Southwest Florida

Posted at 10:28 PM, Nov 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-03 22:33:09-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla., - Scammers are taking advantage of people displaced by Irma or looking for a rental property in Southwest Florida. They're posting listings on Craigslist for homes they don’t own.

Illeana Hamel was looking at a lakefront 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home she liked in SW Cape after her home was damaged by the hurricane.

She was tempted to put nearly $2000 down for the home she found on Craigslist.

“It was a great price, good square footage and handicap accessible.”

A quadriplegic on a tight budget, it seemed like a godsend. Until the man on the other end of the transaction asked her to send him cash direct deposit or through Western Union.

“I had called the bank with the routing number and account number and they weren't valid,” Hamel said.

The price wasn't valid either. The home was listed for $1000 a month on Craigslist but nearly $800 more expensive on other sites like Zillow.

Hamel also couldn’t verify the owner on, a Lee County property appraiser resource where people can search properties by name and address.

“If they say they own it, check to see that they really own it,” said Corporal Phil Mullen with Cape Coral Police Department.

“If you do Western Union, your money is gone. They’re is going to be almost no way to even find that person on the end of that transaction much less find them and bring them to justice,” Mullen said.

The individual who originally listed the property couldn't be reached for comment Friday. The original listing has since been taken down.

If you’ve been a victim of fraud, you can report it to your local law enforcement agency.