Homeless Man Scammed by Fake Lease on Craigslist

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on September 10, 2015 | Last updated on November 29, 2021

A homeless man in Memphis, trying to get back on his feet, got a bittersweet taste of the milk of human kindness after he fell for a scam ad on Craigslist and was saved by a sympathetic landlord. Anthony Owens found an apartment listed online and met with an impostor apartment owner, turning over a $100 deposit fee to the stranger.

Owens had been living in a friend's van, but when he tried to move in to his newly rented apartment, lease in hand, he discovered he had no apartment or contract after all. The man Owens thought was his new landlord was a deadbeat tenant, according to Glenda Glinsey, the actual property owner.

Buyer (and Renters) Beware!

Glinsey told Fox 13 News that she was shocked and upset about the incident. "My mission in life is to try to help people help themselves," she said. In this spirit, she let Owens move in, replacing the fabricated lease with a legitimate one.

The fact that Glinsey let him have the apartment did help Owen feel "a little bit better," he said. Yet it bothers him that he fell for the scam at all.

He is not alone. Consumers have always been subject to thieves, but the Internet offers con artists a slew of new venues for cheating people and unprecedented access to victims. Even very sophisticated users can get swindled.

An Increase in Craigslist and eBay Prepaid Card Scams

"Unfortunately what we see in a lot of these scams is these people are very good, very convincing," Johnson County, Indiana Sheriff, Doug Cox, told local Fox News reporters about Craigslist scammers. He is seeing an increase in schemes involving Craigslist and PayPal prepaid cash cards and warns that any insistence by sellers that they will only accept a particular kind of payment is often a tip-off that a seemingly sweet deal is likely to sour.

Another common fraud tip-off is a too-good deal. Often, when a thing seems too good to be true, it's just not true. Do your homework, research carefully, and never wire money to a stranger based on an exchange online. Take the time to find out more before you turn over funds -- because most fraud stories don't end as happily as the tale of Anthony Owens.

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