Franklin County Craigslist scam cons several people out of money/personal information

(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSLS 10) - An elaborate scam is using the identity of a dead man to dupe people out of their money and personal information.

Real estate agent Denise Thruston says she listed a house for sale in Franklin County, and just days later, it was being advertised as a rental property on Craigslist, complete with an application.

"They've stolen our great pictures that we paid a professional photographer, so it looks really good, and people are coming out sight unseen and giving money," said Thruston.

Thruston says at least 10 people have contacted her trying to rent the property in Boone's Mill and she knows that two of them have lost money in the scam.

"I talked with a couple this weekend and they have four children and they're in the car ready to move into this house that they think they got for a good price, and they have given up money and now they're all in a motel somewhere in Roanoke," said Thruston.

Thruston says that family and one other paid the rent and security deposit up front, losing more than a thousand dollars a piece.

The house's owner, Monica Shui, lives in Richmond.

She contacted the scammer herself, and got another surprise.

"I got the email from this gentleman, the first thing I see is my dad's name. It says Richard Gibbs, and my dad's been dead for 8 years," said Shui.

Shui went to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, but says she hit a dead end.

"The police officer, while he was on the phone with me, he found it, he looked at it, and he basically said there was nothing he could do. The only thing that they would be able to do is once someone actually got scammed and there was money involved that basically they would tell them that was a hard lesson learned. Those were his exact words," said Shui.

Thruston flagged the Craigslist ad, but others have since popped up.

She says she's being as careful as possible moving forward.

"I'm checking all of my listings each day to see if they're on Craigslist and other realtors should be doing the same thing."