Craigslist housing scam leaves mom, daughters homeless

DENVER - A mother and her two daughters are scrambling to find a new place to live after they were told they had to leave the house they were renting -- just two days after they moved in.

Thursday afternoon, Sylvia Piros learned that the cute mint-green house on Utica Street she found on Craigslist, was a scam. The ad said the two-bedroom, one bathroom home cost $600. Interested, Prios reached out to the man she thought was the owner, Charles Hindman.

"This guy told us this story that he had gotten job in Minnesota and he had to take it right away so that's why the house was empty. That's why nobody was in the house, he didn't want to leave it vacant. It seemed reasonable," Piros said.

On Tuesday, within 24 hours of reaching out to Hindman, Piros received and signed a one-year lease agreement and paid $200, a third of the deposit, through a money gram.

That same day, she and her daughters moved in. Piros says nothing seemed suspicious until an unexpected visitor knocked on the door Thursday afternoon.

"The real owner shows up and he says, 'no, you've got to get out of here. I've got people moving in here on Saturday," Piros said.

Piros says she realized at that moment that she had been tricked. She says she is devastated by the scam and worries that she and her daughters have no place to go. She also worries others will fall for the same trick.

"I feel like I'm in the 8th circle of hell," Piros said, "we are not criminals. We need help. We need a place to stay."

9NEWS reached out to Charles Hindman, but he did not return our phone calls. In the past two days, Piros says three other prospective renters stopped by the house on Utica Street after seeing the same fraudulent ad on Craigslist.

The Better Business Bureau says Denver has seen an increase in online rental scams this summer. The BBB says if you're looking for a rental property, be wary of online ads where the landlord only corresponds through email or text, has an out of town area code, wants large payments or deposits up front, or will only accept payment through online payment systems like money gram.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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