DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A 52-year-old Durham man was arrested on fraud charges in connection with a Craigslist room rental scam.
On April 21, a woman responded to a Craigslist advertisement for a room to rent in a three bedroom house in Durham, police said. The victim was led to believe she was communicating with another female about the space and that she would have a female roommate.
When the victim moved into the home, she learned the ad had been posted by William King Jr.
King lives alone in the home and had been impersonating a younger woman, police said.
The victim later moved out.
“One of the things that we tend to deal with quite a bit are scams, frauds, that are conducted online, because that’s the easiest way to hide,” said Durham investigator Judy Rodriguez. “That’s one of the best ways to hide. Whether it’s online or over the phone, that’s where people misrepresent themselves.”
King, 52, of Arnette Avenue was arrested April 24 and charged him with obtaining property by false pretense.
“That’s sick,” said neighbor Syreeta Jolly. “That’s not right. It’s not right at all.”
Syreeta said that as a parent, she tries to be careful to conceal personal information.
If you have been a victim of a similar scam, you are asked to call Investigator J.A. Rodriguez at (919) 560-4440, ext. 29350.
The Durham Police Department’s Fraud Unit is providing the following crime prevention tips:
- Do not rent or purchase sight unseen. That amazing “deal” may not exist.
- Be careful about sharing personal information, including photos, relationship status or any information relating to your personal life. The person you just met online is not your best friend.
- Take your time. Some scammers will try to rush you into making a decision, claiming that you might lose out on a “wonderful opportunity.”
- Never wire funds (e.g. Western Union). Anyone who asks you to is likely a scammer.
- If someone asks you to use a prepaid credit card, it is most likely a scam.
- If you must meet with someone, do so in a public setting and do so during normal business hours. Avoid bars or anything that entails alcohol. If possible, avoid going alone.
- Do not extend payment to anyone you have not met in person.
- Never give out financial info (bank account, Social Security number, PayPal account, etc.).
- Refuse background/credit checks until you have met landlord/employer in person.
- Remember that people can hide their identities online. You never really know who you are talking to.