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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David Goldstein

Comments (10)
  1. Justin O'Brien says:

    Dave .. great pictures and story mate – good access from LAPD too. Well done mate. Cheers… J.

  2. Charles says:

    thank you channel 2!!! my aunt got taken like that about two months ago..i hope these people get some serious jail time..there lycky we didnt catch their ass first…they woulnd made it to jail..Goldstein is serious dude..my aunt thanks you man…

  3. Thomas says:

    I love stories like this. I love that the local media watches out for the average Joe.

    I saw a story in the Spanish media about the illegal towing of cars. I think the English media should cover that to let English speakers know.


    1. Michael J. McDermott says:

      Oh, they just can’t do that.

  4. Robert Court says:

    I have been scammed looking for an Apartment and of course on Craigslist, around half the ads are scams !

  5. Joshua says:

    Press 2 for spanish…

    “I would take someone’s money…” , omg that’s an absolute opposite of his lie. They want nothing but to steal money from you. It is just so extremely easy to protect yourself from being ripped off or scammed; just look at “how” they look Jose. I wouldn’t ever with or even make any contact with them you know Jose? Period, plain easy!

  6. jesus ramos says:

    mexican people have human right too. you can not put hand cuff on us. we are criminal no always. You have to proof it criminal we are. mexican no scam peopel ok. we dont like lie too. we have benifit because california says we should. You now see peopel like we mexican a lot.

    please anyone find a job for me. contact me. I work any job.

  7. KristinWard says:

    Check the local area rent rates. If the rate a place offers you is extremely low it is probably a scram. Always ask to see the apartment before paying. If they refuse don’t give them money. Even if they own it they may be trying to scam you for damages already there or a bad apartment. If your are suspicious and renting from a different state it maybe in your best interest to do a background check on the landlord to verify that he is the actual landlord and that he isn’t behind on payments. http://www.tenantverification.com/ offers commercial credit checks.