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Tucson woman warning others after almost falling for Craigslist scam

Published: Apr. 11, 2016 at 7:25 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A Tucson woman is warning others after she almost fell victim to a Craigslist scam.

"I felt betrayed because I almost fell for it," Marilyn McCarthy said.

As McCarthy searched Craigslist ads for a place to rent in Tucson, a charming home quickly caught her eye.

But she had no idea her soon-to-be landlord was out to rip her off.

As she inquired about the home via email, a man posing under the name of Harold S. Gray said the reason he and his wife were renting it out was because they were on a mission trip.

"Seemed fairly normal. He told me why they were leaving to go on a mission trip plus he gave me the website to go see," McCarthy said.

Gray even invited her to go and check out the property.

She did, and said she fell even more in love with it.

The 1,600 square foot home was listed for $900 per month with utilities included.

McCarthy said she would be ready to move in the following weekend.

Gray sent her an application form, but the questions seemed a bit bizarre.

"To include a picture of my family or myself, wanted to know if I work late at night," McCarthy said.

He also asked how many months rent she could pay up-front.

At that point McCarthy felt too many red flags and contacted Long Realty, who confirmed it was scam. Then they alerted the actual home owners, Steve and Sandra Warner.

"Total shock and actual discomfort because now you're worried about the safety of your home," Sandra Warner said.

The Warners were also disgusted to find out the scammer used the name of their deceased grandfather.

"They had the whole name completely right. He never lived with us, never lived at that address. That was shocking and scary. How'd they connect all that?" Steve Warner said.

Both the Warners and McCarthy are grateful they exposed the scam before any money was actually exchanged.

Those looking to rent a home in Tucson should be sure to meet with the landlord and go inside the property, before agreeing to send any money.

They can also use the Pima County Assessor's website, where you put in the property address and it will identify the actual owner.

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