Family loses $2,000 in alleged Craigslist home rental scam
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A young family is out of nearly $2,000 after getting caught up in a Craigslist rental scheme.
The alleged scammers are scheduled to appear before a judge on Wednesday. Now, one of their alleged victims is speaking out, hoping to get other potential victims to come forward.
For JR McCoslin and his growing family, the house on Dawn Harvest in northwest Harris County seemed perfect.
"Everything was nice about it. Just bigger, fresh new paint," he said.
His wife had found the listing on Craigslist. It fit their budget.
"A thousand dollars a month and a thousand dollar deposit," McCoslin said.
So they wasted no time. Two weeks ago, he says they met with a woman.
"She went by the of Alicia Smith," McCoslin said.
They signed the lease, turned over their money, got the keys and started moving in.
"I packed up all these boxes of stuff. My whole garage was moved out of here," McCoslin said.
But soon, they learned the truth.
"I hate for anyone to get one over on me, and she did," McCoslin said.
Turns out Alicia Smith is really 21-year-old Ariel Sustaita, now charged now with three counts of felony theft. Investigators believe she along with her husband and mother ran a house leasing scam. They would pass a rental listing off as their own and collect payment from prospective tenants.
McCoslin says Sustaita was good.
"Any question I would ask her she wouldn't stutter, nothing. She just had an answer right then and there," McCoslin said.
Investigators now believe he is just one of many victims. He hopes for justice, but with his current rental up for sale, he is more concerned about the money he and his family have lost.
"I gotta find $2,000 more just to be able to move somewhere," McCoslin said.
The Harris County Pct. 4 Office says Sustaita has been implicated in other cases.
Any potential victims are asked to contact authorities.
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