Reporting David Goldstein
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The LAPD is holding a news conference Wednesday afternoon after three people were busted for were allegedly preying on apartment hunters using Craigslist.
Dozens of people were victimized by the alleged thieves, preying on people looking for a better place to live.
“I mean I just wanted something better and quieter and safer for my children,” said Tanzy Harris, a hair stylist and single mom of three girls.
Harris was looking to move from a one-bedroom apartment. Back in September she responded to an ad on Craigslist for an apartment near Sunset and Vine in Hollywood listed for $1,288 a month.
“It was quiet, just a place that I could have called home,” Harris said.
She was given the lock-box code and looked around. She then met with a man the next day, who claimed to represent the owner.
She gave him a $1,350 deposit — he gave her a key.
But she found out the next day that the key did not work. She also noticed a sign posted on the wall warning about people working a scam in the area.
“My heart immediately sunk into my stomach. Like, ‘oh my God, not me. Please tell me they didn’t do this to me,’” she said.
She was not alone.
LAPD swat officers Tuesday morning raided an apartment near Silverlake where they say the operation was taking place.
Two people were arrested there and a third across town. The alleged ringleader was Keith Adkins, 29, a registered sex offender who just got out of prison in June.
“I ain’t ripping no one off,” he told us.
“You’re innocent,” I asked?
“I wouldn’t take someone’s money, who’s trying to move,” Adkins replied.
All were being charged with grand theft.
Inside the apartment police found rental applications, receipts and a gun.
While police were there the phone rang multiple times, as potential victims were calling to try and rent apartments. Police gave them the news.
Investigators believe there could be more than two dozen victims.
“The suspects preyed on a lot of people who were looking for inexpensive apartments.”
Experts say to protect yourself, try to verify that the person you are dealing with actually represents the owner.
It is too late for Tanzy, who had to move from her apartment and just prays that another opportunity will come up.
“Yeah, I believe. I believe God is going to open doors for me and my children,” she said.
Authorities are trying to find more victims of the scheme and believe there could be at least 24 more. A news conference will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
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