Sarasota Police is asking potential renters to do some research before paying a deposit for an apartment or home.
A Craigslist rental scam affected two victims in the past week where both people responded to an ad, met with who they thought was a rental agent, gave the person a cash deposit and later found out the properties weren't for rent, according to police.
In both cases, the supposed landlords told the renters they could occupy the property after it was cleaned, according to police.
The first property, on the 1600 block of 32nd St., was toured on Dec. 4 and the victim met a man who called himself Gary. When the victim arrived at the home, another person showed up instead who said they were Summer King or Kung.
The victim paid a $325 partial deposit, signed a lease and receive a key and was told she could move in when the house was cleaned and she gave the rest of the deposit. The victim returned to the home on Dec. 5 and found the locks were not changed and the house was not for rent, according to police.
On Dec. 7 on the 2000 block of Central Avenue rental victims met a man who said he was John Dougan.
The victims agreed to meet Dougan at the home, paid a $600 cash deposit and received a rental contract, according to police. The victims later learned the property was not for rent and three other couples arrived at the hoe looking for Dougan to rent the home, according to police.
Dougan is described as a black, male, 5 feet 10 inches to six feet tall, medium build and wore a brown Kangol hat (has a kangaroo on it) with gold band, white shirt, tan shorts and sandals, according to police. He was unshaven with a goatee and a single gold tooth.
When the victims tried to contact the rental agents—Dougan or Summer—they found the phones had been disconnected, according to police.
Police recommend that potential renters do research to make sure the rental agents are reputable or the actual owners and never give cash as a deposit.
Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to contact Detective Carter at 941-954-7088.