Statesboro Couple Cracks the Craigslist Scam - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/11/07

Statesboro Couple Cracks the Craigslist Scam

Karen McNeany and Brent Waugh were looking for a roommate but found a scam artist instead. Karen McNeany and Brent Waugh were looking for a roommate but found a scam artist instead.

STATESBORO, GA -- Looking for a roommate? Some people turn to the internet, but you may find a scammer instead.

Craigslist.com is very popular for finding pretty much anything, including a roommate.

A Statesboro couple decided to give Craigslist.com a chance, but instead, found themselves wrapped up with a con artist, and holding $3,000 worth of fake money orders.

Brent Waugh and Karen McNeany moved to Statesboro in August. "We had a third room and were looking for someone to fill it," Brent told WTOC.

So, they turned to the internet. "We figured Craigslist, I'd had a lot of good experience with selling furniture and appliances, so I thought it would be good place to list for a roommate," Brent said.

By the end of the day, Karen and Brent had several responses including one from London, England. It was a woman named Kate Edmonton.

"There was some broken English, but very specific to us," Brent said.

After a month of emailing back and forth, Kate Edmonton said she wanted the room and was sending money.

"There were three Wal-Mart money orders in the mail, each for $980 which was weird because we were only asking for $350 a month," Karen said.

It wasn't the only weird thing. The woman claimed to be from London and an uncle was sending money from Canada, but the envelope was from Waco, Texas and the money orders were from Clarksburg, Maryland and the name on the money order wasn't "Kate Edmonton," but someone named "Jane Rawlings."

"You want to believe people and believe they are being honest," Brent said.

Not Karen. She hopped on the internet, searched "Wal-Mart Money Orders," and came across several scam warnings similar to what was happening to them. They put the money orders aside, ended all contact with Kate Edmonton and waited for the scheme to unfold.

"Probably a week later, something came up, she was moving to California instead and she wanted us to wire her the money," Brent said.

"Kate Edmonton," or whoever it was, never got any money. If they did cash those money orders, Brent and Karen would have been out $3,000 once the bank realized they were fakes.

"I think it would be very easy to fall victim too," Brent said.

"Kate Edmonton" tried guilting the duo into cashing the money orders, then, just settled on being friends.

"She said once she was in California, maybe we could grab a cup of coffee, but I guess she doesn't know Georgia and California aren't that close to each other," Brent said.

Brent and Karen ended their roommate search after this situation, but were smarter than the scammer. It is very easy to fall prey to these kinds of money orders scams. Be very careful about checks or money orders sent from someone you do not know.

When Karen and Brent stopped responding and figured out the scam, the scammer tried saying things like her mother was sick, she needed the money. Don't fall for it. Always be suspicious.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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