On Your Side Alert: Henrico Rental Scam

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - It was supposed to be a dream come true for a Henrico family. They were all set to move into their new home but after giving up hundreds of dollars in a deposit, they realized they were caught up in a scam on Craigslist . They called 12 to warn others.

For Joseph Nadal, a townhouse in Henrico on Binford Lane, was his piece of the American dream, it's now a living nightmare. "It all seemed legit but once I gave him the cash, I never heard from him again," he says. It started when with an Ad on Craigslist. Nadal replied and met who he thought was the owner and was given a tour.

For his family, this seemed 100 percent legit, they already had plans to decorate. "We met him here, he had keys to the house, let us in and showed us around, had us sign paper work, turned out to be too good of a dream," he explains.  Nadal showed us all the paper work, after he gave up 700 dollars, he realized he'd been fooled.

Police say the man behind the Craigslist Ad was renting the home but he didn't own it. Now Nadal was out of his hard earned money and even worse, the family had no place of their own. "I heard about scams like this but most of the time when I hear about it, they were over the phone, people sending money over the phone or mailing a money order. This guy, I met with this guy about four or five times at this house," Nadal tell us.

We checked with Henrico Police. Officers say there could be as many as 9 other victims but wouldn't release any more details because this is an active investigation. They did provide these tips: Never give cash, get a business card and pay a visit to the office, also make sure to get some personal information, like a license plate number. "If I were going to say anything to the guy I would just say it is going to catch up with you, eventually you are going to do some time for this," Nadal says.

We didn't just stop with the police, we tracked down the real property owner to a home in Moseley, Virginia to see if we could get some answers. The homeowner didn't want to go on camera but says she was aware of the problem and was in touch with police. She says she was also a victim and that the man gave her a fake name. Craigslist also warns consumers about the potential for misleading rental ads, and offers tips and red flags. "I am trying not to be totally hesitant about Craigslist because I got a lot of good deals off of Craigslist," Nadal says.

He says his story is just a reminder that when it comes to your money, there is never too much research. "To have deposit forms and receipts and a story and for it to all be a lie, it is crazy," Nadal says. Nadal doesn't have high hopes of ever seeing that 700-bucks but says, he's learned his lesson and hopefully his mistake will help others. Henrico police say there is a suspect in the case but they are not releasing a name at this point because they don't want to jeopardize the case.

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